Global tourism monitoring agency, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has welcomed the Declaration issued by the Tourism Ministers of the G20 economies (T20) calling for priority to be given to facilitating travel as a means to boost economic growth and create jobs.

“To ensure that tourism can play a key role in creating employment opportunities, both directly and indirectly through linkages to the local economy, raising national income, improving the balance of payments, and boosting economic growth, priority should be given to facilitating travel and tourism,” said the Declaration.

Preliminary research prepared by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that certain improvements to visa processes could create an additional 5 million jobs for the G20 economies by 2015 and generate an additional US$206 billion in international tourism receipts.

In light of the role of visa facilitation in supporting economic growth and job creation, and given the current economic climate, the Declaration encourages the G20 to leverage new technologies to make travel “more accessible, convenient, and more efficient without a diminution of national security.” It further proposes countries look into increasing cooperation on bilateral, regional, and international travel facilitation regimes.

“UNWTO applauds the commitment of the G20 Ministers of Tourism to visa facilitation,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, on the occasion of the 4th Meeting of the T20. “This Declaration is an extremely positive signal to the international community that we are moving ahead on this issue of vital importance to the tourism sector and the global economy.”

The Ministers of Tourism and Heads of Delegations of the G20 countries met with the President of Mexico and current G20 Chair, Felipe Calderón, as well as with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa (Mérida, Mexico, May 16, 2012). President Calderón congratulated the T20 on its focus on visa facilitation and assured the ministers he would take their message forward to the G20.

Russia, which holds the 2013 Presidency of the G20, will host the 5th T20 Ministers’ Meeting.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has officially commenced accepting entries into the 2012 edition of its innovative Culture Travel awards.

It would be recalled that the UNESCO Culture Travel Award was launched by the travel publication L’Agenzia di Viaggi during the first edition of the World Tourism Expo (WTE) of UNESCO Cities and Sites – last year in Assisi, Italy.

The award aims to identify and promote the cultural travel offer to the 936 UNESCO sites throughout the world (183 are natural, 725 cultural, and 28 mixed).

UNESCO cultural and natural heritage sites all over the world symbolize culture, travel, and human evolution.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has maintained that it encourages the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world that are among the most emotional and important travel experiences of a lifetime.

According to the organization, for its awards regulations, only tour operators, travel agencies, hotels and hospitality, and public/private tourism organizations can apply for the UNESCO Culture Travel Award, and must submit a complete travel package, itinerary, or destination; tourism organizations and boards may submit special regional and national projects.

Entries for the 2012 UNESCO Culture Travel Award must be submitted by June 21 to redazione@lagenziadiviaggi.it. The travel package or itinerary must include: accommodation, meals, activities, information on the area (culture, nature, and population), and cost.

The Award Ceremony will be held in Assisi, Umbria, on September 22, this year at WTE, the first international travel fair where travel professionals meet with UNESCO sites countries in order to promote easy accessible travel to the World Heritage sites in compliance with sustainable travel criteria.

Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and the National Sports Commission (NSC) have reached an agreement geared towards uniquely promoting Nigeria’s image at the forthcoming Olympic Games in London.

Both agencies of government also agreed that the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games will provide the veritable platform and window of opportunity needed by them to showcase Nigeria positively in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda.

The agreement between both agencies was reached when directors-general of both agencies met at the office of the NTDC, in Old Secretariat, Garki, in Abuja.

Welcoming the NSC chief, Dr. Patrick Ekeji to his office, Director-General of NTDC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, revealed that preparations are in top gear as NTDC is already mobilizing one million supporters for Nigeria’s Olympics Team towards the forthcoming games further stressing that the corporation is currently giving out raffle tickets in this regard.

Runsewe further announced that NTDC is concluding arrangements with owners of a Nigerian restaurant in the United Kingdom to serve 36 + 1 Nigerian dishes each representing the different states of the federation and the Federal Capital just as he urged the NSC to partner with NTDC to achieve greater success.

He therefore called on stakeholders to bid for Nigeria’s right to host the games, saying the time is right as the country has the potential of hosting such games, adding that such venture will greatly benefit the Nigerian populace.

“The Olympics Games is another opportunity and Nigeria’s colours would be there, including a restaurant that will showcase different dishes from the 36 states of the federation, we have to work together to move the country image for the better,” Runsewe said.

Responding, Ekeji, who lauded Runsewe for his exceptional leadership skills at projecting Nigeria positively during the last World Cup in South Africa where Nigeria built an impressive tourism village, expressed NSC’s desire to work hand-in-hand with NTDC to showcase Nigeria’s tourism potentials during this year’s Olympic Games.

“It is only right and proper that NTDC and NSC should have a common ground to work together in order to present in UK the tourism potentials of our country through the avenue of sport which is the Olympic Games,” said Ekeji.

Continuing, the NSC head said: “I personally feel it will not be a complete team without the presence of NTDC, we will not want to go the Olympic Games without carrying NTDC along because, sports itself is about tourism and as we know, tourism today is big business and in fact all countries of the world that have realize the economic potentials of sports, tend to put sports and tourism together.”

“We cannot be going without your full support because what you did in South Africa really promoted our image, we look forward to partnering with you and with the vast experiences and contacts you have, we are sure the presence of Nigeria would be felt not just in the field but within every tourists that will attend the game,” he said.

The cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg have formally joined forces to simultaneously address the substantive global shift toward urban tourism and the pressures being felt by their respective visitor industries.

The three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the cities will result in joint marketing and development programmes,  aimed at establishing the urban dimension of South Africa’s visitor brand and generating demand specifically for each city.

The MOU covers the broad spectrum of tourism marketing and development and comprehends joint initiatives in both domestic and international markets.

“Resources are finite and in order to compete effectively, the three cities have agreed to pool assets and resources to meaningfully address the demand challenges in a post GFC world and altered visitor conditions,” said Phillip Sithole, CEO of Durban Tourism.

CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold added: “We intend to keep our brand and city distinctive propositions in all of our marketing efforts, but will co-operate to ensure maximum results are achieved through aggregated activity.”

“This has been most evident in the recent multi-media global media deal with National Geographic, where individually the cities would not have been able to secure such a vast program,  but collectively have been able to attract significant investment and cooperation from this global media company,” said Sithole. The National Geographic initiative realizes an investment of some R 28 to R30 million over three years by the city alliance and has generated a significant contribution of some R60 million by the media channel itself. The integrated campaign will reach over 70 million people via, print, internet and programming initiatives.

The third leg of the alliance is provided by Johannesburg with its well established business and investment brand and their expanding visitor industry. Acting CEO of Johannesburg Tourism Company, Phelisa Mangcu concluded:  “The only way to entice leisure and student visitors is to expand the knowledge of the experience palette offered by South Africa’s most populous urban centre. This can only be achieved in co-operation with the major brands of Durban and Cape Town.’

It is conservatively calculated that these three cities attract some 50% of all visitors to the country and over 35% of total spend. Furthermore, they have more than 54% of total visitor assets within their precincts and directly employ over 55% of the entire visitor industry workforce.

‘This MOU and the resulting collective initiatives will ensure a strong urban presence in South Africa’s brand proposition; resulting in increased visitation, jobs and economic contribution to the industry as a whole,” reiterated Sithole.

Whilst there a number of developmental programs within the destination marketing companies, the key focus has been in developing an international demand generation plan. This has been achieved and execution has commenced with the on-line component of the integrated strategy.

The three cities are currently planning their co-operative domestic campaign, which will be launched within the next few months.

Umbrella body of manufacturers in the country, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has concluded plans to lead a delegation of Nigerian companies on a Trade and Investment mission to New Delhi, the capital of India.

The trip which is scheduled for between June 3 and 8, this year, according to the association, is in furtherance of its mandate to seek new trade and business opportunities for its members and in pursuance of the increasing bilateral relations between Nigeria and India.

The major objectives of the mission are to provide business linkages and alliances between the Nigerian private sector and their Indian counterparts and to seek for trade and investment opportunities available in the Indian manufacturing sector.

During this visit, the delegation will have B2B sessions with the crème of the Indian business environment and also tour various requisite factories.

Some of the organizations on the delegation include Sharon Paints and Chemical Company Ltd, Kerlin Products Ltd, Epesok Paper Nigeria Ltd, Jimex Industries Nigeria Ltd, Eghiemai Industries Ltd, Chamax Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Afriq Products, Jacob Wines and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, a leading financial institution.

The Trade and Investment Mission is being organized in partnership with Merx Trade, a Lagos based Trade and Investment Facilitations Consulting firm and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)

Following an unprecedented growth in Nigeria that has shot past the firm’s continent leader, South Africa, the makers of the smartphone have announced plans to formally open an office in Lagos, the Nigerian business capital.

Disclosing this at the recent BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, the United States, Mr. Robert Bose, head of RIM for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the proposed new office in Nigeria will seek to position the country as a specific target market.

Sales outside North America make up 70 per cent of total revenue, and regions making the biggest contribution to that chunk of income include South Africa, Indonesia, and Mexico.

BlackBerry is already the number one smartphone brand in Nigeria, but in a tiny smartphone market, which comprises less than 5 per cent of the phone market. And that is without having direct representation on the ground.

In most Western developed markers, all eyes would be on that smartphone chunk, both because it typically makes up half of the phone market in such territories, but also because it is a definitive marker of who leads the market.

The hidden factor behind BlackBerry’s success in Africa is one simple word: aspiration. It is the business phone that denotes having made it – even if you’re not in business. Strangely, the iPhone does not carry that cachet. It denotes someone with money, but it is also regarded as an expensive toy rather than a tool. In Nigeria, there is little aspiration for toys.

“The brand has gone viral in Nigeria, to the extent that a Nollywood movie was made about people trying to acquire a BlackBerry*,” says Bose. “We’re opening an office in Lagos in the next 60 days.”

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), too, has been core to success in markets where BlackBerry dominates smartphones. It is those markets where take-up of BBM is highest among BlackBerry users: 99 per cent in South Africa and 97 per cent in Nigeria.

And then there is affordability. In markets like South Africa, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria, BlackBerry’s secret weapon was the Curve 8520. It is the single most popular smartphone model – across all brands – in each of these countries.

“A lot of people expect that the only devices we would sell in Nigeria would be the 8520 or the cheapest phones,” says Waldi Wepener, RIM’s regional director for East, Central and West Africa. “But we sell as many at the high end.

“Because Nigeria is not a subsidised market, and operators don’t subsidise devices down to zero, the price of the device at the user level is very visible. And that doesn’t hold back the market.”

Counterfeit devices, which bedevil the sales of brands like Apple in particular, are not as great a problem for RIM. Again, it comes back to the aspirational nature of the market. “Nigerians want to feel they are holding the authentic product.”

Up to 200 cultural masquerades are expected to grace this year’s edition of the Iwa Ji Ndi Igbo, the annual New Yam festival scheduled for Igbo Ukwu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The traditional monarch of the community, the Idu II of Igbo Ukwu, Igwe Dr. Martin Ezeh who made this revelation alongside some members of his royalty when he visited the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) office in Abuja, Thursday, further solicited the support of and promotion by the agency towards successful preparations as well as the hosting of the event.

.Remarking, the monarch noted that a special talent hunt was also planned to feature as part of several activities lined up to celebrate this year’s National New Yam Festival, which is expected to climax on August 25..

“We are here to seek your support for a successful New Yam celebration which has become a hallmark event in Igboland and especially for us in Igbo Ukwu. We are also here to felicitate with one of our own and father who made the tourism industry what it is and what it should be in the country. Success begets friendship while failure is an orphan they say.”

Commending the NTDC initiative of bequeathing to the Igbo Ukwu community with a National Yam House, Igwe Martin Ezeh said, “The only National Yam House in the country has been fully built and operational for more than 3 years running, all to your vision and credit who made it happen. Your projects and projections in the tourism industry are eye marked and not only read on the pages of news papers and on television, it is always a reality.”

On his part, Director General of the NTDC, Otunba Segun Runsewe assured his corporation’s continued support for the event noting that it had attained an international status while maintaining that the Idu, ‘has declared a revolution by making provision to parade 200 masquerades in the forthcoming National New Yam Festival.’

According to Runsewe, to further consolidate on the gains of the Yam House as a veritable tourism destination, NTDC is also considering the establishment of a museum in the site as demanded for by Nigerians especially those resident in the East.

“The clamour is apt as the establishment of a museum should be done with the input of the National Council for Museum and Monuments, a body charged with this responsibility,” he said.

Highlight of the courtesy visit was the presentation of NTDC-branded souvenirs to all members of the Igwe’s delegation by Runsewe as the Igwe in turn presented a cross and a key to his host stressing that the NTDC director general should use the key to symbolically open the remaining tourism sites in Nigeria.

 

Nigerian travel management firm, Peacock Travels and Tours Limited, has opened five new subsidiaries in the United Kingdom.

The five new subsidiaries are Peacock Travels and Tours, Peacock College, Peacock Aviation Training Centre, Peacock Bureau De Change, and Peacock Property.

The opening ceremony of the companies was held in London at a grand event attended by top UK government officials including the Speaker of the London Borough of Hackney, Ms Susan Fajana-Thomas; and a representative of Her Majesty, the Queen of England, Deputy Lieutenant of Hackney, Col. Roderick Morris.

The launching of the five UK subsidiaries, which, is headquartered in a sprawling edifice located in Hackney area of London, E8 2FD, came barely 24 months after the fastest growing Nigerian travel management company extended its operations to South Africa.

Welcoming eminent Nigerians and Britons at the event in London last week, the Group Executive Chairman, Peacock Group of Companies, Chief Segun Phillips, said the relationship between the UK and Nigeria had come a long way, noting the two countries were bound by strong historical, social, cultural, political and economic ties.

Phillips expressed gratitude to all role players that had made it possible for the dream to become a reality.

“Today is a special day in so many ways. We feel exceptionally blessed and fortunate to be able to share today with all of you,” the Group Executive Chairman told dignitaries at the event.

While looking at the prospects for the future cooperation between the two countries, the Peacock chairman said the company was keenly aware that high quality standards were crucial to ‘long term success.

He said the company had committed itself to the implementation of ISO 9001, the international quality standard for organisations and companies.

He said, “We have established a comprehensive Quality Management System to verify that we are managing our processes effectively and that we are fully in control of our activities. The system covers all our core processes including classifications work search and’ examination, opposition revocation and limitation, as well as support activities, such as training.”

According to Chief Phillips, Nigerian is an increasingly important market for British companies, and the UK is one of the largest investors in Nigeria, in sectors from oil and gas to financial services and agriculture.

He said during the last three years, trade between the two countries increased by.67 per cent, adding that, “the UK is home to roughly 800,000 people with family ties to Nigeria, and members of the Nigerian Diaspora play an important and valuable role in the UK’s economy and society, contributing to a large number of fields from medicine to financial services and to football.”

International Conference and Convention Association (ICCA) recent publication of the top 20 destinations for Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) business has reaffirmed the old world order–that not one African city or country made it into the top 20 worldwide.

In fact, the top six countries appear to be cast in iron, led by the United States and followed by Germany and Spain. In the city ranking, Vienna took the top position followed by Paris and Barcelona, respectively.

African destination countries have been trying to market MICE events more aggressively in recent years but are often limited by the available conference facilities and more important, bed capacity in capital and key commercial cities.

While South Africa has been persistently topping the African rankings and has invested heavily in facilities ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, other countries have been playing catch up with Kenya significantly for the East African region attracting ever more MICE business and hoping for yet more.

Significantly, the planning for a brand new international class conference centre is advancing, to be set at the Bamburi area of the Indian Ocean port and leisure city of Mombasa. Another country keen on increasing their MICE footprint is Rwanda, where new hotels and conference facilities are due to be commissioned. Among them a new Marriott Hotel and Conference Centre.

Globally, Africa, as is generally the case with tourism arrivals and global ranking therein, remains in the distant pack chasing a however fast growing market segment for such profitable and visibility creating events.

The travel and tourism industry’s longer-term prospects are good, delegates were told last week at the World Travel Market (WTM) Vision Conference-Florence, in Italy.

Despite the global financial problems, which continue to impact the industry, Euromonitor International Travel and Tourism Analyst Angelo Rossini predicted the “the next 5 years would look brighter.”

“The long-term prospects are good for the travel and tourism industry,” he said.

Rossini, highlighted the growing middle classes in the emerging countries, which now have the money and the hunger to travel. He added, tourists from developed countries would continue to travel, they would just look for cheaper alternatives.

“It is very hard for people to give up travelling, so they will look for cheaper options such as short breaks or low-cost holidays,” he said.

Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman World Travel Market Fiona Jeffery said: “The travel industry needs to take a long-term approach. The emerging economies offer a lot of opportunities, while there are still opportunities in the mature tourism countries; they just need to be tailored to the trends and circumstances.”

Meanwhile, the industry’s technology was also criticized for being behind the times.

Amadeus Italia Marketing Director Tommaso Vincenzetti said the technology the industry uses makes it seem outdated. “Technology should bring advantages for us in our working lives as it does in our private lives,” he said, “The industry works in a way which is way behind what people are used to.”

Last week’s event was the second annual WTM Vision Conference in Italy, in association with TTG Italia, with last year’s taking place in Milan.

The WTM Vision Conference series has expanded this year, taking the number of events to 5. The Florence event was the final in the series, which has also travelled to Moscow, London, Dubai (at fellow Reed Travel Exhibition’s event Arabian Travel Market), and Shanghai.

“The WTM Vision Conference series has been extremely well supported with packed conference rooms at all of the events,” Jeffery added, “This support demonstrates there is a need for the high-level research, information, and opinion that WTM Vision provides the industry senior leaders to help them run their businesses.”