Akwaaba African Travel Market
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|Akwaaba African Travel Market|
Where Africa meets the world
|Genre||Exhibitions, conference, workshops and awards.|
|Years active||2005- present|
|Participants||African countries, airlines, hotels, resorts, tourism boards, national parks, transport companies, destination marketers, travel and tour operators|
|Organized by||Akwaaba Travel Market Limited|
Akwaaba African Travel Market (AFTM) is an international travel and aviation, hospitality and tourism event organized annually in Lagos, Nigeria providing the platform for businesses, investors, governments and buyers in the industry in Africa region to trade, network and providing information on opportunities and changes in the industry.
Akwaaba African Travel Market came at a time the West Africa travel market and tourism industry developments, innovations, challenges and untapped travel and tourism investment potentials were unnoticed to the broader global communities. West Africa, a region with 270 million people, numerous airports and hotel chains, and the largest number of travelers in Africa.
The first Akwaaba African Travel Market (AFTM) was held in Lagos in 2005. It came as a result of the rebranding of the name of the Travelers Awards and Exhibitions, which was launched in 2004. Subsequent editions have been held in Lagos. Akwaaba has its origin from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. It means welcome.
In 2005- 2008 From the participation of two countries, Ghana and Sao Tome, coming to Nigeria for the event in the debut year in 2005 to increasing number of active exhibitors and participants from other African countries in subsequent editions , Akwaaba African Travel Market is widely seen as the main designated travel market in Africa
In 2009 the 5th edition was held at the Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos from 24th -25th October with 15 participating African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt and Gambia. Various organizations in the hospitality, travel and tourism sectors from these countries were exhibitors. Guests included former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former president of Gambia, Sir. Dauda Jawara; former vice-president of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekweume; the Director- General of Nigeria Tourism development Corporation (NTDC), Segun Runsewe and the governor of Cross River state, Senator LIyel Imoke. The event was a platform for business networking, technical and practical knowledge towards development in the industry and trade sales worth millions were negotiated by the exhibitors and investors.
In 2010 the 6th edition drew exhibitors from major airlines, travel agencies, hotels and tourism companies. Africa Travel Association (ATA) and the World Bank also participated. The event was opened by the former president of the Gambia, Sir. Dawda Jawara. Other guests were former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; CEO of FIFA World Cup 2010 DR. Danny Jardaan; the Secreatry- General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, prof. Zahi Hawass; first female airline captain, Irene MUtungi of Kenya airways and ministers of tourism from African countries.
In 2012 the 8th edition of AFTM drew an impressive number of exhibitors, participants, delegates and guests. With 20 participating African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Morocco and the Gambia. Participants and exhibitors were also from the USA, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The events featured award ceremony in the categories of Africa legends ( in the industry), aviation and hospitality. The second day of the travel market was for exhibition and conference, majorly in the aviation sector. The third day was the hospitality day. Exhibitors showcased their brands, products and services to the investors, buyers and public. It was a networking session matching buyers and exhibitors for quick business meetings. 
In 2016 With over 20 participating countries and over 10,000 visitors, the 10th edition of Akwaaba African Travel Market was a three day event with increased number of exhibitors and visitors feedbacks, and increased sales trade during the exhibition for exhibiting companies and organizations. The event was declared open by the Deputy minister of Tourism and Hospitality of Zimbabwe, Annastacia Ndlouv. Event features included wine tasting, exhibitions in the aviation and hospitality sectors, African Business Travel Association ( ABTA) workshop and various countries/ states day celebrations, where the culture, food and tourist attractions were showcased.
In 2017 the 13th edition revamped with new event features and awards category. Awards were given to one hundred African women in the travel industry. On why The Award was instituted, the organizer, Ikechi Uko said "Seventy percent of people working in the tourism are women, twenty percent are in the management position. Regrettably, only a paltry five percent of this huge figure could be found in the decision making positions. The Award is to encourage them to continue to strive for excellence in driving economic growth to Africa through tourism and the travel industry". Akwaaba chef challenge and Food fair 2017 were new event features during the 13th edition. The culinary event was aimed to promote culinary tourism from West Africa to the world.
One of the uniqueness of Akwaaba African Travel Market is the distinctive event features, which are catalysts in driving economic growth through tourism, hospitality and the travel market in the region. The 14th edition , ( 9 September- 11 September 2018) featured the celebration of 100 top African tour operators; it served as an enabler for a sustainable Pan- African tourism by involving African tour operators, who are major stakeholder in African tourism destinations. Also the Akwaaba Tour Operators Summit 2018 expanded the industry, so that it can address a broader market- more business for all. In view of the roles of the youths in tourism development in Africa, the 14th edition held Africa Youth Tourism summit with speakers including 15 African beauty pageant winners. The country day celebration had Nigeria represented by the Nigeria Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC) presenting Nigeria food culture. Exhibitors were from 20 African countries over 10,000 attendance from African countries.
Akwaaba African Travel Market brings together travel professionals from different African countries including
- Airlines companies,
- Transport companies
- Tourism boards
- Recreation parks
- Destination marketers
- Travel and tour operators.
Seeing the power of tourism, South Africa used Akwaaba African Travel market as a reaching platform to bridge her gap with Nigeria. Thulani Nzima, chief executive officer of the South African Tourism (SAT) is quoted saying: "During Akwaaba, we officially announced our partnership with the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), who will help boost tourist arrivals growth from Nigeria to South Africa by developing a range of packages to suit the Nigerian travelers". As quoted by Akwaaba African Travel Market organizer, Ikechi Uko: "The fair has opened the door to Nigeria and Africa tourism markets and served as a platform for exchange of cultural and tourism potentials among participating countries".
The Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), the largest training institute in Africa, partners with Akwaaba African Travel Market to reach out to the West Africa region in the areas of pilot training. Akwaaba offers NCAT a platform to reach out to a large audience of top players in the Aviation industry from West Africa. According to Capt. Chinyere Kalu, former rector of the institute, she said in 2012: The current growth of NCAT and its excellent positioning in the region is a reflection of the vision of the minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, who has supported the college tremendously and Akwaaba helps us reach more organization to take advantage of the wonderful training opportunities in Nigeria.
In 2012, Gambia organized 'Gambia day' at the 2012 Akwaaba African Travel Market, inviting her business partners around the world to Akwaaba event to witness the ' Gambia day'. Gambia used the Akwaaba African Travel Market platform to showcase Gambia to the world and seeks investments.
Akwaaba African Travel Market is the official travel partner for the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA). This enables NANTA, as an organization to further strengthen her relationship with other African countries and international organizations.
To foster the relationship of East Africa with West Africa, East Africa adopts Akwaaba African Travel Market as the official tourism expo in West Africa; and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopts Akwaaba African Travel Market as the official travel expo in the region of West Africa.
The Nigeria former Minister of Land, Housing and Urban development, Mrs. Akon Eyakenyi, said: "Akwaaba gives people in the tourism industry room to interact with hoteliers, travel and transports industry operators and to share their individual experience".
During Akwaaba 2014, South African Tourism (SAT) used the fair as an avenue to meet with exhibitors, present them with the country's value proposition and sign business deals with the exhibitors.
"We love what is going on here. The organizers did a good work by providing opportunity for people to make sales, network and learn. We have made some useful contacts with people from the Gambia, Ghana and tour operators from across the continent. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity of meeting them to talk to them about tourism in Delta state’_ Delta state Tourism Board.
"Akwaaba African Travel market has helped raised investors interests in Gambia.This event provides an opportunity for us to open our doors to the West Africa sub region, so people can see what we offer, and Akwaaba has been very effective in helping us achieve a lot" _Gambia Tourism Authority
"Since its founding, Akwaaba African Travel Market has served as a bridge between the tourism industry in West Africa and North America , and Africa Travel Association ( ATA) is pleased to be part of it” - Edward Berman, Executive Director of ATA.
"We decide to exhibit in Akwaaba African Travel Market because it’s the biggest travel fair in West Africa. Over the years that we have been in operation, we have noticed a sharp increase in the guests, who are coming from West Africa, especially from Nigeria, and we decided that it will be a good opportunity for us to exhibit in West Africa, and Akwaaba African travel Market is the best option for us _The Emerald Collection- Zanzibar, Tanzania.
"Akwaaba continues to draw a lot of exhibitors and travel buyers. The improvement goes on year after year. We are impressed"._ Akwa Ibom State Hotels and Tourism Board.
"This event is a good market to promote our tourist attractions, talk to tour operators and investors on the need to come to Ekiti state. Also from the discussions during the conference sessions, we know that one can benefit a lot from coming to a place like this". Ekiti State Tourism Board.
Lagos state, Nigeria align with and endorse Akwaaba African Travel market as the official designated travel event in Lagos state. "This is in fulfillment of the state government promise to announce a yearly calendar of events to guide programming , visiting tourists and visitor’s decisions". - Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Commissioner of Lagos State for Tourism, Arts and Culture.  
The Africa Travel Awards marks the formal opening of the fair and features speeches and presentations, award presentation, cultural dance displays from various dance troupes across Africa, music performances and dinner.
The Africa Travel and Tourism Conference is to address the challenges and solutions of travel and tourism development in Africa. With expert speakers and discussants drawn across the globe, delegates, guests and exhibitors will be enriched with vital knowledge and information on the up-to-date changing trends in the practice and operations within the related sectors of the travel and tourism businesses.
This Aviation day focuses on the Aviation Industry .The Aviation day features workshops and presentations where industry experts discuss the outlook for the Africa region, find out what trends are affecting Africa, the challenges and opportunities in the long-term and learn how to adapt to changing market conditions as well as celebrates Top Brands. The event is rounded off with Lunch and Musical Performance.
In 2015, in line with IATA's objective, to bring connectivity in Africa, Akwaaba African Travel Market (AFTM) partnered with IATA to organize the 2015 Edition of Aviation Day at Akwaaba.
The hospitality day focuses on the hospitality industry, with attendance of nearly all the managers from the top international hotel brands in the Africa region. It features presentations by notable individuals on the latest trends, tools and technology to help hotels stay ahead of competition and increase guests experience. In 2014, Samsung West-Africa launched their new set of Hospitality TV into the West-African Market at the event. This event is rounded off with lunch, Raffle-draw, musical performances and Wine-tasting.
The country day celebration is aimed at promoting travel within Africa through showcasing the food, Culture and destinations of participating countries. These countries in conjunction with their embassies in Nigeria can organize a food, wine tasting event or bring along a cultural troupe to entertain at the event. Ghana, Gambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria day have all been celebrated.
Partnerships and associations
Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA )
National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA)
Nigerian Associations of Tour operators(NATOP )
International Tourism Trade Fair Association (ITTFA)
Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC)
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT)
Kwanza Trade Marketing of Dubai
Federal Airport Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN)
Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA)
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