In the last One Month I received gifts from some young Tour
Operators who believed I played a role in their Growth. I appreciated the well thought out Gifts. Things I can use.
Nice Perfumes and choice Wine. Lol. I understand that it was for the giant role Akwaaba has been playing in the travel space. I will leave the Akwaaba story for the end.
In travel you get to live like a millionaire without been one.
Sometimes in 1988 British Airways took four Nigerian travel Agents members of NANTA to London to attend the World Travel Market.
I think it was holding at Olympia then not so sure, Olufemi Adefope (HRG,GHI assets Etc) now the most successful travel operator in Nigeria. Alhaji Munzali A. Dantata of All States Travel former DG NIHOTOUR, former President FTAN and NANTA. Mr Akinyelure. I think Mr. Akala was the 4th person.
That was the first show of Nigeria at WTM. Again in 1993 a certain Mr. Chike Maduekwe who is now an Anambra based Ppolitician along with late Mrs. Fatima Garbati then at Nigerian Airways arranged for the next show of Nigeria at WTM. During the Abacha years Shola Illupeju convinced the Federal government to use foreign Expos to launder Nigerian image. By the time Aiyegboyin Alabi became DG NTDC Nigeria finally had a stand.
Through its media consultant Mr. Simon Tunba British Airways took Nigerian journalists to London WTM then at Earls Court 1997.
In 1998 KLM provided tickets for me and 3 other journalists to attend WTM. London WTM was the be all and end all travel exposure available for people in travel and tourism business. It was the only place to Learn about marketing in tourism. Nigeria Airways took regular trips for some trade and media. My first trip to America was the inaugural flight of Dr. Obafemi’s World Airlines in 2003. I was also on the first flight to South Africa in 1998 by Nigeria Airways.
Ifeanyi Uhuegbu and I spent our time in London at Yemi Obalanlege home at Kent and after WTM I stayed with my Cousin Chucks Ujah. It was a pilgrimage for us annually.
In 2000 Nigeria bungled its appearance at WTM. Ifeanyi Uhuegbu of the Champion Newspaper and i wrote nasty articles about our woeful outing. I published a cover titled ‘Obasanjo’s Shame in London”, somehow my magazine got to President Obasanjo who sent it to late Ojo Maduekwe then Minister of Tourism. Heads rolled.
Omotayo Omotosho was appointed DG NTDC thereafter and Nigeria became a regular at WTM which has now moved to Excel Centre in 2001. By the time Otunba Runsewe took over WTM in 2006 we were on a roll in London.
BA, KLM and Kenya Airways were regularly exposing Nigerian travel trade to Fam trips and events. The arrival of South Africa tourism changed everything. They came heavy they came Prepared. Ogbeni Tope Awe of TOPCOMM and his Crew integrated SAT into the fabrics of the travel community.
SAA tapped on their Customer base to drive the marketing of South Africa Tourism Mr. Ohis Ehimiaghe and Thobi Duma of SAA sold the South African Dream to Everyone. South Africa was the destination that exposed most travel trade and media to Modern Tourism Marketing Skills. Then arrived Lehlohonolo Pitso and Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa on the scene and put everything on Steroids. Nobody expected the atomic Weapon Coming from Dubai in the person of Kalanne Fubara.
Dubai practically tore the form book apart. The aggression showed by the middle East City has helped expose more hands to new marketing tools. The only Nigerian organisations in Nigeria that ever organised regular Fam Trips were Carnival Calabar and NTDC under Otunba Runsewe.
I personally give Credit to Kenya Airways for introducing me to Africa first in 1998. They were leading in the Pan African marketing efforts until something went off somehow. Today Ethiopian Airlines is leading all airlines in Fam Trips and exposure to travel markets.
Almost all leading players in travel marketing in Nigeria today will be an alumni of SAT, SAA, DTCM, Ethiopian Airlines and of Course Akwaaba.
Akwaaba has worked with all the named players and played a part in their Success stories. With Annual events in Ghana, Abuja and Lagos Akwaaba has exposed more Nigerians to Travel Marketing than any other Organisation around. As the promoter of Akwaaba I guess I deserve all those bottles of Champagne and Perfumes. I am glad we played a part in the growth of Travel and Tourism in Nigeria.
I thank you all.
By Ikechi Uko