The organiser of West Africa’s biggest travel and trade exhibition, Mr Ikechi Uko has been honoured as the Tourism Icon of the year 2019 by the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN).
Mr. Ikechi Uko, who organizes the reknowned Akwaaba African Travel Market was given the award for his passion and resilience in the promotion of tourism in the African continent.
Speaking at this year’s summit and awards of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN) in Lagos with the theme: “Unlocking potentials in the aviation industry through Safety”, President AFARN, Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma said the theme of this year’s summit was carefully chosen bearing in mind that safety remained the bedrock of aviation practice the world over.
Also, the Yoruba Youth Assembly (YYA), recently honoured Mr. Uko with the Most Outstanding Personality of the Year Award.
The group which recognises individuals in the country that have exemplified themselves in the promotion and growth of sectors in the nation presented the Obafemi Awolowo Leadership Award to Mr Uko in his office in Lagos.
Speaking at the presentation of the award, the team led by the Vice President, YYA, Olaleru Folarunsho, said: “Your invaluable contribution for the advancement of tourism, hospitality and the promotion of cultural heritage of Africa has been phenomenal and worthy of note.”
Furthermore, the Association of Nigerian Journalists & Writers of Tourism (ANJET), at its annual Tourism seminar 2019 held at Eko Hotel Lagos, with the theme: “Tourism and Jobs: Better Future for All” the tourism Icon for his role in the tourism sector.
Speaking at the event, the Olota of Otta, Ogun State, who was the royal father of the day, Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege, urged government and Nigerians to explore tourism for job creation and growth of the gross domestic product.
Obalanlege said that Nigerians must stop depending on government for job creation but get creative to groom most of the enormous tourism potential the country was endowed with.
Earlier, Dr. Gbenga Olowo, managing director, Sabre Networks, West Africa, urged government to take the tourism industry seriously by sufficient budgetary allocation for the sector.
Olowo, who was represented by Mr. Mayowa Badewa, deputy zonal director, western zone, Sabre Travel Network, said that the tourism industry must be prioritised as huge employment opportunities could be derived from the sector.
The ANJET also used the occasion to honour stakeholders in the tourism industry. Some of the award recipients include the Director General National Council for Art and Culture, Olusegun Runsewe, Director General, NIHOTOUR, Alhaji Kabir M. Momoh, CEO, Akwaaba, African Travel Market, Mr Ikechi Uko. Others are, Managing Director, Topcom Communication, Tope Ogbeni-Awe and Managing Director, Jemi Alade Tours.
Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma while giving his speech at the AFARN seminar stated that though there had been remarkable improvements and growth in the system, given that the number of the flying public had not dropped, government can do better by upgrading infrastructures across board to give room for more investment opportunities.
On the recognition and awards for 2019, Nwokoma said, “this year we recognize the vital importance of the Aircraft Engineers and the Air Traffic Controllers without whom there will be no aircraft to fly in the first place and no skies to operate”.
”We are inducting Engr. Abosede Felicitas Oladumiye, First Nigerian Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and Arogunjo Kayode Abdulrazak, First Nigerian Air Traffic Controller into the AFARN Hall of Fame”.
Mr Nwokoma stated that the survival and growth of the industry is the major concern of the association say that “that is why we remain steadfast in bringing professionals and stakeholders to deliberate on issues necessary for the advancement of the sector.