The third edition of the annual Accra Weizor event has commenced at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel with participants looking forward to finding a common ground to develop West Africa’s tourism and travel industry.
The event which aims at promoting seamless travel in West Africa also serves as one of the biggest platforms for the convergence of bigwigs of the travel and tourism industry within the sub region.Ikechi Uko, organizer of the event says the event is to help make West Africa an aviation hub that allows for tourism and travel businesses to thrive.
According to him although the sub region had shown promise by being the first to spearhead free movement in Africa, it has not done much since then. ‘’We found out that West Africa despite the fact that being the first area in Africa to start free movement amongst its neighbours; the ECOWAS Protocol, ECOWAS has developed the least in Africa. East Africans have gone ahead to do Single Visa, travel without passport, even removed all the taxes to create open skies in the region, but West Africa hasn’t moved. And it is because every West African country operates within their own environment. So we decided to create something that will bring West Africans together to get them to begin to work together and that is why we did this event,’’ he indicated. Mr. Uko who is also publisher for the ‘atqnews’ magazine also added that
Accra Weizor is to help create business linkages within the West Africa travel sector. ‘’ It is empowerment, at least we want everybody to get to know everybody here, then the next level is that people will form partnerships, we can do businesses together.
GTA took all the delegates to Cape Coast and they had the best time and some are already booking tours to those areas and already the fallout is there. We have Tour operators from SA, Tour Operators from Uganda, and the network has been formed. So that is the beginning and if Ghana starts it, the rest will join.’’
Itinerary for the opening day of the two day event included a panel discussion on various travel themes on travel industry, including a presentation by Dr. Samson Fatokun who is the Area Manager of IATA West Africa. He spoke on West Africa as Domestic Aviation Environment, with emphasis on the need for policy makers to come together to help grow the tourism industry within the region. He identified improving competitiveness of destinations, visa openness, and collaboration among airlines, comparative aeronautical charges as some of the ways by which West Africa could develop a robust travel and tourism sector.
A major highlight of event was the awarding of the Top 100 Tourism Personalities which has been initiated to recognize persons who are blazing the trail in pushing the tourism agenda in West Africa.
Recipients of the maiden edition included Ghana’s Gilbert ‘Abeiku Santana’ Aggrey – Destination Marketer and CEO of Kaya Tours, Mrs. Nancy Sam Quartey – President of TOUGHA, Madam Bella Amu – CEO of Traffix Restaurant, among others.
There were exhibitions by businesses within the travel and hospitality sector from Ghana and other countries within the region and beyond. In attendance were also some members of the Calabar Carnival ensemble who thrilled attendees to exciting dance performances.
Accra Weizo continues on Saturday 27th May, with a master class training sessions on digital marketing of tourism. The pay-to-attend event will be facilitated by some of the industry’s best and seeks to teach participants about ways by which they could they could leverage the power of new media to market their tourism products and services.