Accra, the capital city of Ghana played host once again to West Africa’s regional travel and tourism expo, the Accra Weizo and La Palm Royal Beach Hotel was once again the venue of the two-day event which brought together travel and tourism industry professionals from West Africa and other parts.
Jointly organised by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Ikechi Uko-led Akwaaba African Travel Market (AfTM), the fifth Accra Weizo opened on Friday June 28, 2019.
In his address, Ghana’s Minister of Aviation, Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda noted that despite the increased liberalization of the African aviation industry, some African governments are still hesitant on opening their skies due to fear that foreign competition could undercut their national carriers, some of which are short of commercial viability and merely symbols of sovereignty. He stated however that;
“Ghana on the other hand believes in the liberalization of the skies to boost connectivity and had shown commitment to this by being amongst the African countries who have signed to the Yamoussoukro decision (YD) and SAATM. For West Africa to realise its full potential growth, much emphasis must be placed on connectivity and ease of movement of passengers and goods across borders.
However, enhancing connectivity within the sub-region goes hand in hand with increasing the level of safety and security. These two should be key priorities for the development of seamless travel in the West African and the development of the aviation industry as a whole. The African authorities have endorsed an African Union (AU) backed plan aimed at addressing deficiencies related to aviation safety and security and strengthening the regulatory framework.”
“For West Africa to realise its full potential growth, much emphasis must be placed on connectivity and ease of movement of passengers and goods across borders.”
He further stated that: “Seamless air transportation will create the market opportunities for local entrepreneurs by creating regional and global economic centers. This is in line with plans of Government in its facilitation of the Continental free trade Area (CFTA) by the Africa Union.
Growth in air transport has directly maps into economic growth due to spill over effects through creation of direct and indirect jobs in the industry and other auxiliary sectors such as tourism and other services sectors. By facilitating tourism and trade, it generates economic growth, improves living standards, alleviates poverty and increases revenue from taxes.”
Several goodwill messages were delivered by various top industry gurus present at the event. Among them was the irrepressible Director-General of the National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC) of Nigeria and recipient of the 2019 Balafon Travel Award for Tourism Man of the Year, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe who took the audience on a history lesson of the mutual camaraderie between Nigeria and Ghana.
“The Nigeria-Ghana Friendship club is to champion the course for the unity, peace, stability and development of Nigeria and Ghana in particular and the West Africa sub-region at large.
Citing examples of several football legends like Yakubu Mabo who played for Nigeria and scored the first goal at the Nigeria National Stadium when it was commissioned in the ‘70s, Otunba Runsewe pointed out that Mabo was actually Ghanaian born.
He also mentioned Abdul Razak who captained the Black Stars of Ghana but was actually a Nigerian, among several others. Otunba Runsewe then seized the opportunity to propose the Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Club, which was adopted and subsequently launched later in the day. According to Otunba Runsewe;
“As brothers and neighbours, there is a lot Nigeria and Ghana stand to gain by evolving informal platforms of collaborations and strengthened sub-regional solidarity.”
The Nigeria-Ghana Friendship club is to champion the course for the unity, peace, stability and development of Nigeria and Ghana in particular and the West Africa sub-region at large.”
Other goodwill messages were delivered by the Director of Dubai Tourism (Africa), Ms. Stella Fubara; Mr. Austin Cobham, Executive Secretary of Carnival Calabar Commission; Thekiso Rakolojane, Regional Head of South African Tourism (West Africa); Mrs. Olanma Ojukwu (GOTA Voyage, Benin Republic), etc.
The day featured two panels of discussion on aviation and M.I.C.E. respectively, and the presentation of the Balafon Travel Awards, while entertainment interludes to spice things up was provided by the Calabar Carnival queens.
By NIYI DAVID