There is an unmistakable effort to reaffirm Badagry’s pivotal role in the promotion of tourism in Lagos State. The popular Akwaaba African Travel & Tourism Market which had its 15th edition at the Eko hotel in Lagos became a veritable platform for the ancient city of Badagry to showcase its potential and demonstrate its commitment to the promotion of tourism.
And it had all of Akwaaba’s three days and more to do this.
According to Hon. Zapata Samson Nunayon, the Supervisor for Education and Tourism in the Badagry Local Government, his team decided to key into this year’s Akwaaba after the superlative participation of Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture at last year’s edition. And considering that Akwaaba is an International travel, hospitality and tourism event providing businesses, investors, professionals and buyers in the industry in African region to network and trade, “it serves for us as an ideal platform to impact knowledge and relevant information on trends and developments in the industry.”
According to him, Akwaaba is the most recognized travel and tourism market in the West African region “Where Africa meets the World”.
This year’s edition and for the very first time in the history of the local government, Badagry officially took part from the preliminary stage through a tour of the ancient city Badagry by the entire Akwaaba team alongside guests and groups from the Diaspora who were warmly received on Friday September 20.
“There were useful interactions with the team, especially the Diaspora group led by Carol, I. Hay, Director of marketing UK & Europe of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and Dr. Kerry Hall, Director of Tourism Development of the Government of Barbados. Part of the request made by the Mayor of Badagry through his Supervisor for Education & Tourism was the vision to establish a Sister-City project between these communities in the Diaspora and Badagry to strengthen their relationships.
“After discussions, both the Diaspora groups and the entire team of Akwaaba were all decorated and costumed with local Ankara fabric by the executive chairman through his Secretary and members of the Executive council of the Badagry Local Government while one of the delicious delicacies of Badagry (Ajangun & Coconut) was served.
He said the visitors then paid a visit to His Royal Majesty, the Akran of Badagry kingdom and they were given a very special treat at the palace with presentation of Badagry Pilgrimage Certificates to the Diaspora group.
To wrap the visit up, they were also taken to some identified tourist sites and later back to 02 waterfront bar for brief reception with a cultural show performed by Gbenopo cultural troupe, after which they were taken to the famed Whispering Palms resort to enjoy the rest of the night.
At the event proper in Eko hotel, Badagry was perhaps the star of the show, as the arrowhead of performances by Lagos State contigent.
“The high point of the program was the exhibition and presentation by all participating countries sharing their knowledge, experiences and strategies in getting to their present stage of development and revealing some of their future agenda. The participating countries and cities include; Ghana, Nigeria, Dubai, Gambia, Caribbean, Lagos State, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Ondo State and Sudan among others.”
With keynote address by the former minister of Tourism of Seychelles, Mr. Alain St. Agre, this year’s Akwaaba travel market also featured African Travel Awards, panel discussions, cultural displays across different countries, wine tasting, culinary events and networking opportunities at the pavilions.
The last day of the market, September 24th, which was Lagos Day on the program provided another opportunity for Badagry to be on the centre stage, to the delight of Hon. Solomon Saanu Bonu, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Arts & Culture and the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Babatunde Mesewaku who are both proud Badagry sons.
“Lagos Tourism’s presentation was fantastic from the pavilion to the documentary film and speeches by both the SA to the Governor and the PS.
Lagos State with the performance of our own Cultural Heritage from the Badagry (Sato Drummers) took the center stage and energised the hall completely as everyone yielded to the call of the drums with various dance steps.”
Chief organiser of Akwaba, Ambassador Ikechi Uko, commended the collaboration with Badagry this year, saying with the right attention and commitment from all stakeholders, Badagry can truly live up to its promise as arguably Nigeria’s chief tourist destination.
By Adelagun EniObanke