If the 5th Accra Weizo were an outfit, it’d be a case of fit, fabric & ensemble at 100%. Accra Weizo is an annual event targeted at promoting Seamless Travels In West Africa, while also providing a platform for participants to network with other like minds in tourism and travel business from across West Africa.
For the many benefits it is guaranteed to provide every single time, the decision to attend is never really a difficult one. This year’s edition didn’t fall short of expectations and therefore no surprise that media channels/platforms can’t seem to have enough.
Accra Weizo 2019 held over a five-day period with the last two days dedicated for panel discussions after a familiarisation tour of Cape Coast which took place in the first three days. Very memorable was the boat ride to, and the beautiful people of Nzulezo (the village on stilts). The well-seasoned chicken which accompanied our meals at Maaha Beach Resort did us good.
Our many visits in the Western Region wrapped up quite nicely with our visit to the residence of the Minister of the Western Region, Hon. Dr. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, popularly referred to as Governor. The warmth from this man and his team was remarkable. Also forming a pleasant part of the overall experience were the bus rides to and from the many locations visited.
Queen Mother Ebele Enemchukwu was engaged as Co-Comperè alongside Ghanaian Ato Ghartey for the two-day event proper which held at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra.
After opening prayers were said by GOTA Voyage Boss, Mrs. Olanma Ojukwu, the event was set in motion by welcome messages from CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Akwasi Agyeman and Organiser, Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ambassador Ikechi Uko. Then came the outpouring of goodwill messages from the many important personalities at the event.
This year’s edition saw four formidable panels discuss issues affecting travel and tourism in West Africa, while also providing contributions aimed at addressing them.
Day 1 had papers on AVIATION and M.I.C.E. presented with topics for panel discussion as “Passenger Experience, Civil Aviation Rules and Immigration Processes In Inter-Connecting West Africa” & “Using M.I.C.E. To Drive Tourism” respectively. Amb. Ikechi Uko moderated the Aviation panel, while Pa John Bentsifi Dadson (Director, Ghana National Convention and Visitors Bureau) moderated the M.I.C.E. panel.
On Day 2, HOSPITALITY and ENTERTAINMENT took centre stage with the panels discussing “Culinary Tourism As A Tool For Differentiating Country Brands” as well as “Using Entertainment To Drive Tourism In West Africa”. Moderating the Hospitality panel was Dr. Kobby Mensah, a senior Lecturer at the University Of Ghana Business School. The Entertainment panel was handled by Ghanaian Media personality, Andy Dosty.
In between panels, Carnival Calabar Queens/Revellers in their usual fashion, thrilled the audience with amazing performances which saw guests rising to their feet in appreciation of their beautiful display. Well done, ladies.
A major highlight of this year’s event was the Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Club???? formed to foster bilateral unity between both countries. Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director General of the Nigeria Council Of Arts and Culture was the brain behind this. Great one indeed!
Supporting Otunba’s efforts and giving the 5th AccraWeizo the resounding success it recorded were other travel and tourism heavyweights, including
•Mr. Nkereuwem Onung (Chairman, Board Of Trustees, Nigeria Association Of Tour Operators – NATOP);
•Hajia Bilikisu Abdul (President of NATOP);
•Nana Abena Kyerewaa (Queen Mother of Asankrare Traditional Council/Ashanti Region);
•Sean Mendes (COO, African World Airlines);
•Mrs. Stella Fubara (Director-Africa, Dubai Tourism);
•Lydia Achel (Head, Intelligence Unit K.I.A. Ghana Immigration Service);
•Basil Agboarumi (MD/CEO, Skyway Aviation Handling Company Plc – SAHCO);
•Hon. Dr. Ziblim Iddi (Deputy Minister of Tourism – MOTAC);
•Amb. Nancy Quartey Sam (President, Women In Tourism);
•Sam Agbi JP (Director, Performing Arts, NCAC);
•Didier Bayeye (Ag.Group Manager Africa, Sun International);
•Theresa Ayoade (CEO, Charterhouse Productions/ Ghana Music Awards);
•Dimakatso Malewa (UNWTO, Leadership Task Force);
•Safie Ali (CEO, South African Safaris, Uganda);
•Austin Cobham (Executive Secretary, Carnival Calabar Commission – CCC);
•Eme Affiah (Director of Administration, CCC);
•Emmanuel Agweye (Marketing Consultant, CCC);
•Chef Benoit Ghechevit;
•Chef Joe Wilson (VP, GHATOF);
•Francis Doku (Communications Professional, Ghana);
•Magnus Rex Danquah (PR/Marketing & Sports Business Consultant);
•Helen Akinbamiyorin (Manager at SAHCO PLC); not forgetting gorgeous ???? Beauty Queens, super Tour Operators, erudite Travel Journalists/Writers/Bloggers, Travellers’ TV, Tourism Stakeholders from Togo, Benin Republic, Uganda, South Africa, Dubai, Ghana and of course Nigeria.
Unavoidably, but noticeably absent at this year’s event, even though well represented, were the Vice Chairman of SAHCO PLC, Chief Chike Ogeah and the Chairman, Carnival Calabar Commission, Sir Gabe Onah.
Because a little wine is good for the heart, South African Tourism provided just the right dose and flavours of fine wine to go with the many gift items won by guests who visited their stand. West Africa Regional Manager for South Africa Tourism, Thekiso Rakolojane was on ground to personally welcome visitors to their beautiful stand. He was ably supported by the Trade Relations Manager, Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa.
Still on freebies, a weekend getaway for two, an experience at the African Village and Continental Restaurant were won by guests, courtesy La Palm Royal Beach Hotel.
AccraWeizo5.0 also featured the Balafon Awards during which saw deserving individuals, hotels, airlines, events, get recognised for their efforts in growing tourism and travel in West Africa.
In the end, we saw Ghana, ate Ghana, wore Ghana, and definitely felt Ghana!
Big congratulations to the organisers Akwaaba African Travel Market and Ghana Tourism Authority, ably led by Amb. Ikechi Uko and Mr. Akwasi Agyeman respectively, their Teams, Partners, Sponsors and of course, all who attended the 5th AccraWeizo, for yet another successful edition.
AccraWeizo6.0 shall hold on the 26th & 27th of June, 2020. Not too early to plan.
P.S. The Ambassador is now Professor Ikechi Uko (as rechristened by Ato, and now adopted).
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By Ebele Enemchukwu