Drawing well over a hundred top players in the banking, aviation, travel and hospitality sub sectors in Nigeria and other West African countries, the second edition of the annual West Africa Business Travel Conference and Expo ended in Lagos, last Monday with participants upbeat on industry’s prospects in the years ahead.

The one-day conference and expo, which took place at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, featured delegates discussing pertinent African business travel issues, in and around a series of engaging panel discussions, involving some of South African and Nigeria’s top business travel industry speakers drawn from mainly the organised private sector.

The theme of this year’s event which was Strengthening Business Travel in West Africa, also featured four panel discussions as well as presentations by some title sponsors like Mastercard, Sun International, Delta Air Lines, GHI Assets, and the W Hospitality Group.

Organized by the Future Group, publishers of Business Traveller Africa magazine, and their Nigerian partners, TopComm, the conference provided a veritable platform for participants in the aviation, hotels, travel management firms and banking sub-sectors to X-ray challenges and proffer solutions to burning issues affecting the sub-region’s and by extension, the continent’s economy as far as it affects the travel and hospitality industries.

Sponsored by Delta Air Lines and associate sponsors, MasterCard, W Hospitality Group and GHI Assets, the conference also attracted comments and suggestions from the participants on the floor during the four sessions which deliberated on such topics as: Airlines – The challenges that airlines face – the impact of the rising fuel price, poor track record, safety issues and relationships with travel buyers. What impact does this have on the business travel industry?; Banks/Financial Services – A look at what the current trends in travel financial services are, and their effect on West African business travel and trade. What are the talking points, both from a bank/travel finance group point of view, and from the perspective of the TMC?;

Other topics which occupied discourse included: Hotels – Raising the bar for service excellence in the West African hospitality industry, and why this is an important element in securing business travel business. Also, a look at the trends and where the activity is in West Africa, with regards new properties and options for the business traveller, along with an examination of West Africa as a viable option for meetings and conferences; TMC’s – What the issues are facing travel management companies and their relationships with airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. How do TMCs survive, where are the hotspots, and how do they secure the best deals for business travellers in and out of West Africa? Also, a look at African visa regulations and their impact on business travel between countries.

 

Featuring top notch industry players like; Mr. Ohis Ehimiaghe, the South African Airways Regional Manager for North, West and Central Africa; Mr. Hafeez Balogun, the Rwandair Country Manager; Ms Robyn Christie, the Association of South African Travel Agents Chief Executive Officer; Mrs Tinuka Nwakohu, the National Association of Nigerian Travel  Agents 1st Deputy President; Mr. Olatunde Oluloye, chairman, Institute of Hospitality, U.K; Mr. Boela du Plooy, the Accor Hotel South East Africa, Nigeria & Indian Ocean’s Director of Development; Mr. Amaechi Ndili, the Golden Tulip Hotels West Africa’s Chief Executive Officer; Mr. Christian Tomandl, the General Manager, Four Points by Sheraton, Lekki, Lagos, the conference also had on the platform other notable practitioners drawn the aviation, banking and accounting subsectors.

Notable issues raised at the conference included the Open Skies vs Fair skies issue where participants argued over why governments of the continent should continue to provide protection for some of the local airlines in the aviation sector and thus shunning the Open Skies regime which tended to provide a level-playing field for all airlines.

While some participants argued for travellers’ interest by way of government allowing for Open Skies regime since according to them, domestic airlines in Nigeria in particular, have proved to be incapable of managing their firms effectively, another school posited that countries in Asia attained greatness today largely on the strength of the protection provided by their governments years back, hence their backing for the Fair skies regime.

For Ndili, during the hospitality discussion session, the lack of capital funding by the private sector has remained the biggest threat to private individuals setting up big chains in the hospitality industry which explains the reason for smaller hotels that dot the continent especially in countries like Nigeria that had been a long-time player in the hospitality sector, just as Oluloye corroborated by adding that the low demand for hotel facilities and rooms also contributed to the dearth of big chain hotels in Nigeria with the Sheraton Hotels Lagos for long the only +300 room hotel in the country up until the InterContinental Hotel Ikoyi, Lagos set to open tentatively next year.

“If there’s no demand to drive supply in the market then expect that there’ll be no supply for the product. That’s what happened to the hotel industry and for a long time there was only one +300 room hotel in Nigeria since the opening of Sheraton Lagos,” Oluloye said.

Ndili also scored the industry low on operability in the country when he described the cost of operating hotels in Nigeria as ‘astronomical’, adding that some 3-star hotels in the country were simply operating as 5-star in terms of running the costs.

“Hotels in Nigeria are unintentionally pricing themselves out of the ordinary Nigerian’s reach by operating 3 star hotels at the price of 5 star hotels and it may not necessarily be their fault. It is the economy. The cost of running hotels in Nigeria is astronomical what with cost of electricity generation and other amenities and facilities.

For Oluloye, the issue is complicated further as it negatively impacts on the system of grading the hotels in Nigeria as, according to him, when some 3 star hotels run as 5 star hotels it becomes an issue for the grading system.

“The cost of running a hotel in Nigeria is such that some clients now start to question the rationale behind spending $300 for a room in the country when less than half of that amount can guarantee you similar services or even better in Ghana or Gambia. And because these clients are lodged here they expect to get such services commensurate with the star rating you have given to yourself,” Oluloye stressed.

For Tomandl, even the issue of a hotel grading system remains guest-dependent and not for the hotelier or any government regulatory agency, as according to him, it is the guest who ultimately determines the proper rating of a hotel.

Highpoints of the conference was the presentation by Mr. Trevor Ward of the W hospitality Group, whose positive outlook on hotel developments in sub-Saharan Africa impressed participants as he further described the growth rate of the hotel industry in sub-Saharan Africa as having outstripped that of the previous leaders, North Africa in its 2012 report.

According to Ward, the company’s report also details the jump by Nigeria to lead the figures for hotel openings in 2012 for Africa in signed deals and second to Egypt for pipeline developments under the same period.

Responding, head of the Future group, publisher of the Business Traveller Africa magazine, Mr. Richard Lendrum, described the conference as having turned out beyond his own expectations, just as he promised to work towards a bigger conference for next year.

“This conference I’ll say has surpassed my own expectations not just by the turnout of participation but also by the volume of activities and responses seen today. For next year’s edition, we promise to work towards an even bigger package with the Lagos remaining the host city since it is the hub of business in the sub-region,” Lendrum said.

Also responding, Deputy General Manager of Golden Tulip, Festac, Lagos, Mr. Shousha Mohsen, commended the organizers of the conference as he further made a plea for more of such events to be held for the meeting of minds and in cities like Lagos, which, he said deserves it and also as an image booster for the country.

“A lot of people are apprehensive about coming to Nigeria but when you come here you find that you actually like it. Tell me one country that hasn’t got a problem of its own. There’s none, all of the countries have their own problems. It is with events like this that you advertise yourself to the world. That is what you should be doing. As much as I would commend the organisers for this wonderful opportunity I would like you to make more out of this. That is what other countries are doing,”

The conference also provided grounds for executives and decision makers across the business travel spectrum, including hospitality, airline, automotive, Forex, travel management companies, banks, travel finance services, government agencies, insurance, travel tour agencies and corporate business travellers to debate most pressing business travel issues and those that inform the industry itself.

While formally launching the campaign ahead of this year’s World Tourism Day 2012 celebrations on September 27, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, has called on all tourism stakeholders to “play their part in reaching the United Nations goal of achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030”.

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2012 will be celebrated under the theme ‘Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development’, inviting everyone involved in tourism, from governments to businesses and tourists themselves, to learn more about the sustainable energy initiatives in place in the tourism sector, debate what more should be done and advance the use of sustainable energy in tourism.

“Tourism is leading the way in some of the world’s most innovative sustainable energy initiatives,” said Rifai in his official WTD message. “Energy efficient upgrades to aircraft, the shift to renewable fuel for aviation and cruise liners, energy technology solutions in hotels, as well as countless other initiatives are placing tourism at the forefront of the clean energy transformation.”

These initiatives are crucial for sustainable development, continues Rifai, helping to cut tourism’s carbon emissions, enabling businesses to grow and create jobs, and bringing modern and affordable energy services to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities – goals in line with the 2012 UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

The Secretary-General’s message is part of the WTD 2012 campaign, which also includes the annual WTD photo competition, the upcoming Twitter competition and access to resources on the relationship between tourism and energy. This year, UNWTO is also inviting everyone to visit the ‘online energy school’, as part of Hotel Energy Solutions, a UNWTO-initiated project designed to help hoteliers cut their carbon emissions and costs. The launch of the WTD  campaign comes one week after governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups meeting at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) committed US$ 323 billion to achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030.

Official WTD celebrations will take place on September 27 in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain, and include a Think Tank on the 2012 theme with the participation of top experts and policy makers in the field of tourism and energy. The Think Tank will be one of hundreds of events taking place around the world in celebration of WTD.

A terrorist explosion in Bulgaria; Tourist kidnappings in Egypt; Sometimes violent demonstrations in Greece; A coup in Mali; Deadly drug wars in Mexico; Olympic security failures in England.

Who wants to be a tourist these days? The deadly bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists last Wednesday in Bulgaria is the latest bit of bad news in a season plagued by global instability.

Travelling hardly sounds relaxing as targets might include public transportation systems and “sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas and other tourist destinations” where large numbers of U.S. citizens gather, according to the United States State Department’s, latest worldwide safety caution issued last Wednesday.

Despite ongoing advisories and worldwide economic uncertainty, the numbers suggest travellers are nevertheless determined to see the world. International tourist arrivals grew 5 per cent in the first four months of 2012, according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization. The agency estimates that 415 million tourists will travel worldwide during this year’s May-August peak travel season, and international tourism is expected to increase by 3 per cent to 4 per cent for the full year.

“In the case of acts of violence or any other risk/crisis situation such as natural disasters, it is important that countries are prepared and have built crisis management structures and preparedness plans to deal with such unforeseen events in order to minimize their impact on tourism,” wrote Sandra Carvao, a WTO spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “Yet in many cases, these are isolated events that if well-managed will have a limited impact on tourism demand.”

The number of U.S. travellers going abroad last year dropped 3% from 2010 to nearly 59 million, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, but 2012 is looking strong for U.S. travel abroad.

“So far, in 2012, we are seeing increases in U.S. outbound air traffic to all world regions. It is too early to tell if any of the events that have just occurred will impact travel,” a Commerce Department official said via e-mail. This year’s outbound air traffic is up 5 per cent through April 2012, according to department figures.

While most of their travellers aren’t heading into political hot spots, U.S. travel agents say their clients understand terrorist threats and political unrest are part of what they have to consider in a post-9/11 world, along with the price of a plane ticket.

“We’ve had little to no cause for concern from our travellers, many of whom are on extensive European vacations travelling with family for up to three weeks in Europe,” wrote Pattie Fanta, owner of Travel Leaders in Bay Village, Ohio, in an e-mail. “I advise my clients to remain vigilant and alert while on the road (even in the U.S.), know they have good trip insurance and call us should any problems arise.”

Perspective is key, says veteran travel writer Zora O’Neill, who was boarding a Thursday red-eye flight to Greece.

“Sure, I’m going to Greece, and even Athens — but I know where the demonstrations usually are in Athens and the scale of them — so I know just to avoid that part of the city,” says O’Neill, author of more than a dozen travel guides, plus an upcoming book on Arabic language and the Middle East.

“The key to perspective is a map! ‘Demonstrations in Greece’ typically boils down to one major square in Athens. ‘Drug war violence in Mexico’ affects only a tiny portion of the country. And for terrorist attacks, it’s stone-cold to say it, but the safest time to go somewhere is after an attack, when the security is the most vigilant.”

Source: CNN

The 2012 Osun-Osogbo Festival Planning Committee has disclosed the readiness of the Osun State government under the leadership of Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, to boost the festival in order to enhance the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Home Affairs, Culture and Tourism, who also doubles as the Chairman of Tourism Inspectorate Committee, Mr. Oladipo Soyode made this disclosure in Osogbo, the state capital, during a meeting held in his office with members of the committee.

Soyode stated that the present administration in the state has resolved to execute some notable capital projects in the tourism sub-sector so as to increase tourists’ patronage of the tourism sites in the state.

He therefore assured that this year’s Osun Osogbo festival will be different from the previous ones held as the government will make adequate medical arrangements, provide security, transportation, market space and tourism pavilion for tourists, saying this will help in achieving Governor Aregbesola’s goal of developing Osun Osogbo festival to the world standard.

The governor’s aide who explained that his committee is saddled with the responsibility of collecting rates on hospitality and other tourism enterprises in the state, also led the members of the committee on a visit to Osun Osogbo shrine and other historical sites in the state.

Courtesy: Yetunde Oladejo

Following the huge success of last year’s Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) celebrations which was organized in Lagos, Nigeria, by the South African High Commission (SAHC), in partnership with the South African Tourism (SAT), both agencies last Saturday, July 21 again staged a sequel but this time with Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka as the top attraction.

Last year’s event had featured a South African Zulu cultural troupe as its major attraction.

The Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, and celebrated every July 18 (on Mandela’s birthday). The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first United Nations Mandela International Day held July 18, 2010. However, other groups began celebrating Mandela Day July 18 2009.

On a weekend that did not hold much in form of entertainment for the city’s teeming fun seekers, the Mandela Day celebration provided a bit of colour as the Silverbird Galleria for the second time platformed the celebrations which also had in attendance top officials from the SAHC in Lagos, kids performances, as well an arts and crafts exhibition by Nigerian and South African artists.

Organized to coincide with the birthday of one of the country’s leading icons, Dr Nelson Mandela, who turned 94, on July 18, the Mandela Day celebrations has become one of the top events in the calendar of the SAHC as it seeks to broaden its scope of activities and in turn improve relations with national of its host country.

Explaining the theme for this year’s celebrations, which is: Take Action, Inspire Change; Make Everyday a Mandela Day, the SAHC’s Counsellor-Political and Head of Lagos Office, Ms Thandi Mgxwati, said it was designed to inspire action change and put smiles on the faces of people by way of inspiration in line with what Mandela stood for.

“We are trying to reach and put smiles on the faces of those that are need and in a sort of inspirational movement for good which we are all designed to take action. The values that Nelson Mandela stood are the same as those that this event is out for , not just for those in South Africa but everyone else anywhere in the world. We are saying that people most inspire others and take action which is in line with the theme of this year’s event. And with this event we are trying to reach out to as many people as possible,” Mgxwati said.

On his part, the Counsel General, SAHC Lagos, Ambassador Mokgethi Sam Monaisa, who described Mandela as having spent the best of his lifetime fighting for the right of the downtrodden not only for South Africans but for humanity at large, stressed that Mandela’s major preoccupation was for Africa to attain peace and Africans

“We all know Mr. Nelson Mandela as he has spent the best of active life fighting for the rights of the downtrodden and humanity as well. He has really been concerned throughout his active years that the people of Africa must attain peace and that Africa must attain stability. And he spent 27 years of his life in jail fighting apartheid regime in South Africa. He was an example to all the leadership of this country that as a leader you have to give a chance to men who would come after you. He served only one term, he could have stayed longer for a second term or more.” he said.

On building stronger ties with Nigeria, Mokgethi said the event was one of such planned to strengthen ties between Nigeria and South Africa adding that in September this year, the high commission will also partner with a private firm for the hosting of a Nigeria/South Africa Week.

According to him, the planned event will feature a week of activities ranging from showcase of business organizations from South Africa and Nigeria, literary discussions, artistes performances and others geared towards a stronger relations between the two countries.

Highpoint of this year’s celebrations was the presence of the diplomatic community represented by the Camorounian Embassy Counsel General in Lagos, Mr. Paul A Dong, and of Prof Soyinka who joined a select group of children and high commission official in cutting the Mandela cake, which was followed by a VIP wine tasting session and a documentary of Mandela depicting his life of struggles against apartheid, time in prison camp and life as a statesman.

Two multi-talented writers with a Lagos connection; Maero Ozako and Bobo Omotayo, will be featured  at the July edition of the Guest Writer Session, an initiative of the Abuja Writers’ Forum(AWF), which holds this Saturday, in Abuja.

Ozako, a motivational speaker, children’s author and artist, born in Delta State grew up in a ‘book castle’ and always dreamt of writing books. She attended the Federal government Girls’ College, Benin City before bagging a Bachelor of Science degree in geography and regional planning from the University of Benin.

Having worked for many years as a copywriter at various advertising firms before setting off on her own, Maero is a Goldman Sach’s Scholar and received a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management in 2009.

She has a unique range of experiences in project ideas generation and management, corporate communications in the private sector, public relations and development enabling her create projects especially in philanthropy and human and community development with effective communications strategies.

She has also made her mark in her work with the less-privileged especially with the refugees through the her work with the SOS and other orphanage homes, an coordinated the World Refugee day for the UNHCR through AREF in year 2000. She also won a Rotary Youth Literary Award during the RYLA week on the Sea School Island in 1990 and is a role model awardee of the Halifield School, Maryland.

Author of five children’s books and one for women titled; ’Words of Wisdom” which is the first in the W.O.W. (Words Of Wisdom) series designed as a compilation of poems and one-liners written straight from her heart, her other books are Fables For Children, both written and illustrated by her.

The foreword for the two books was written by the late Lady Kofo Ademola. Her third book is Money Grows On Trees with a foreword by Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Her other books are What If Everyday Was Christmas? and Words Of  Wisdom For Children.

Bobo Omotayo is a Director at R&B Public Relations Limited which specializes in corporate communications – reputation management, communication with non-consumer publics, persuasion, and spin for corporate concerns and brands.

Bobo is also known under the nom de plume ‘The Renaissance Man’. He has contributed as a columnist and freelance writer to several print, online newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, NEXT, BusinessDay, and BellaNaija.com.

In 2011, he was one of two young persons selected by MTV Networks Africa to be a panelist at the launch press conference for the MTV Base Meets…with MTN, a groundbreaking pan-African multimedia campaign designed to inspire African youth by connecting them with some of the world’s most influential personalities.

Later in the same year, he published his first book; “London Life, Lagos Living”.  In his words: “Initially apprehensive as to the likely public response, I am daily humbled by the public embrace of this labour of love by the reading public. A couple of thousand copies later, I am astounded by the depth of feedback from readers, who effuse about how the book has in some way or the other made them laugh, reflect, reason and more.”

The book has already led to the making of a 6-minute documentary, directed by LA-based filmmaker, Francesca Tilley-Gyado, is not so much a story of ‘the journey so far’ but more a snapshot into what a typical week is like for the author and contributors to the book.

The Guest Writer Session which started in June 2008 is generally regarded as the most consistent literary event in the country and has become the template for similar interventions. So far this year it has featured an interesting mix of writers namely Uche Ezechukwu, Steve Okecha, Oyibo Ameh, K K Iloduba, Betty Abah, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Chido Onumah and Richard Ali.

Telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria Tuesday, July 24, in Ikeja, Lagos formally unveiled another innovative package that will empower its customers, especially the youth and those with lower purchasing power connect easily to friends and loved ones, as well as sustain their commercial activities.

The innovative package tagged, Quick Talk stretches 50 and 100 Naira recharges to give 60 seconds of talk time to any Network in Nigeria every day for 3 and 7 consecutive days respectively.

Speaking on the latest offer, Deepak Srivastava, the company’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director said the offer is yet another masterstroke from Airtel to drive home its resolve to consistently delight Nigerians with innovative telecommunication offerings and bring affordability to the masses to benefit greatly from telecommunications.

His words: “Airtel has been at the forefront of providing customer-centric and affordable services in the Nigerian market. This has seen the brand delight subscribers in Nigeria especially its customers including the youth, with excellent service packages that not only provide them with fun and excitements, but adds value to their businesses and love lives irrespective of economic status or present financial constraints. The Quick Talk Package will further enhance these virtues”.

To access the Airtel 50 naira Quick Talk Voucher, customers must have up to 50 naira or above in their main account before dialling *400*50# to successfully migrate to enjoy the package.

Similarly, customers must also have up to 100 naira or above in their main account before dialling *400*100# to migrate to enjoy maximum benefits.

The Airtel Quick Talk Package is available to both existing and new customers who are on the following prepaid platforms; 2good, 2Good Time, Airtel Big Family Extra, Club 10 and Valumax.

Customers can get further information on the Quick Talk recharge voucher by dialling Airtel customer toll- free lines on 111, 121 or Airtel My Offer interactive voice service on 141. Alternatively, customers can visit any Airtel shops across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; http://www.ng.airtel.com, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Airtel-Nigeria or http://www.twitter.com/airtelnigeria.

Two Kenyan, Tom Mboya and Evanson Nyaga, have been awarded the top prize at this year’s CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2012 Awards Ceremony, just a Nigerian, Ahaoma Kanu of the National Daily, bagged Tourism Award for her story titled; ‘Badagry: A Walk Through the Slave Route’

In addition, Tunde Akingbade, Peter Nkanga, Idris Akinbajo, Elor Nkereuwem, Musikilu Mojeed, Next on Sunday, Nigeria, were among 10 African journalists who received special Certificates of Commendation, a cash prize, a Nokia 800 Lumia having participated in the finalists’ programme in Lusaka, Zambia.

Tom and Evanson, won for their work ‘African Tribe in India’, which aired on Citizen TV, Kenya and was chosen from among 1799 entries from 42 nations across the African continent, and were among the 34 finalists at the Awards ceremony on Saturday evening and were winners in the category ‘Television Features Award (TV60).’

The Awards, which rotate location each year in tribute to their pan-African credentials, were held at a Gala ceremony hosted by CNN and MultiChoice at Auditorium Hall, Government Complex Convention Centre, Lusaka, Zambia this evening, Saturday 21 July, and broadcast live on ZNBC.

Nico Meyer, CEO MultiChoice Africa, Parisa Khosravi, Senior Vice President for CNN Worldwide in charge of International Newsgathering, and Hon. Given Lubinda MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented Tom and Evanson with the Award.

Member of the judging panel, journalist and media consultant Joel Kibazo said: “This story introduced the viewer to something new, an African tribe in India few know about. The journalist took the viewer with him to India, and the village to speak to the tribe members. An all round detailed story that was well told.”

Parisa Khosravi, Senior Vice President for CNN Worldwide in charge of International Newsgathering, said “The men and women who enter these awards have become part of a community of excellence, representing the very best in journalism and maintaining the highest standards of journalistic integrity. Their resourcefulness and bravery in pursuing the story has my deepest admiration.”

Collins Khumalo, CEO MultiChoice South Africa said: “We salute the finalists and the winners of the 2012 awards. These journalists give a voice to Africa and help to make that voice heard around the world. We encourage journalists from around the African continent to continue to tell the stories of Africa – who knows, your story might be celebrated at the 2013 awards.”

Nico Meyer, CEO MultiChoice Africa, said: “Each year we are amazed at the growing number of entries we receive for the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Award and we continue to marvel at the growing quality of entries – a great indication of the talent and skills pool in the continent. All tonight’s winners should be very proud of their achievements and we wish them well as they advance to a higher level of global influence. The selfless nature of the trade often displayed in the work done by our journalistic community is once again to be commended and honoured. As MultiChoice we are committed to the empowerment of Africa’s communities, and telling stories of their lives to raise awareness of their plight is commendable. We salute all journalists and tonight’s winners for their contribution to the development of open and democratic societies, creating future hope for generations to come.”

The evening also recognised Enenche Akogwu and Zakariya Isa as this year’s recipients of the Free Press Africa Award, for their work in Nigeria. Zakariya, a cameraman for the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), was killed in October 2011, and Enenche, a news reporter with Channels Television, was shot and killed, having covered the Kano bomb blast in January this year.

The CNN MultiChoice competition is now in its 17th year. The prestigious sponsors include: A24 Media; African Development Bank (AfDB); The Coca-Cola Company; Ecobank; Ericsson; Intercontinental Hotel, Lusaka; IPP Media, Tanzania; MSD; Nokia; SuperSport; and UNICEF.

The overall CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2012 wins a substantial cash prize, a visit to CNN Centre in Atlanta, to attend the three week CNN Journalism Fellowship, along with the prize awarded to all category winners, which consists of a laptop computer, printer, Nokia 800 Lumia and a cash prize.

Recognizing that it is often the friendly gestures that are most appreciated by business travellers after a long day on the road, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.’s Four Points brand last Monday formally launched its “Friends of Four Points” global programme.

During the 3-month global promotion, from mid-July through the end of September, all guests checking in at any of more than 160 Four Points hotels around the world on Mondays through Thursdays will receive a Friends of Four Points “token” for a free perk.

The token will be valid for one of four offerings, including a “buy one get one free” Best Brew as part of Four Points’ popular Best Brews craft beer programme, free dessert, free specialty coffee or free tasty appetizer. Guests can redeem their token during their current stay or during a future stay at any of 160+ Four Points hotels around the world through the end of year. Why? Because everywhere they go, they’re a friend of Four Points.

Senior Vice President, Specialty Select Brands for Starwood, Mr. Brian McGuinness explained: “At Four Points, our guests appreciate honest value and genuine service.” He continued, “This new initiative reinforces the fact that we see our guests as ‘Friends of Four Points’ and that we’ll do everything we can to make them comfortable on the road.”

The brand is celebrating the start of the Friends of Four Points promotion with a Friends of Four Points Global Scavenger Hunt. A series of five, oversized Friends of Four Points tokens will be hidden at Four Points hotels across the globe, with clues posted daily on the brand’s Friends of Four Points Facebook tab starting on July 16 at http://www.facebook.com/fourpoints. The first person to find the token at each location will win a fantastic 3-day trip to any Four Points hotel of their choosing around the world, including complimentary airfare, hotel stay and spending money.

As added celebration during launch week (and to keep everyone alert while they search for clues!) Four Points is hosting a “worldwide wake-up call” on Wednesday, July 18th. This worldwide wakeup call provides anyone who stops into any Four Points hotel with a free cup of coffee to help them power through midweek.

For more information on Friends of Four Points and to see what perk is offered at the hotel you’re travelling to next, visit http://www.fourpoints.com/friends, a global microsite where travellers can discover each hotel’s chosen perk or find special offers.

“Best for business,” Four Points knows that comfort doesn’t need to be complicated and has helpful amenities like free bottled water and free Wi-Fi in public spaces. A delicious breakfast with great coffee and refreshing, local beer with Best BrewsSM help guests to start and end the day right.

With more than 160 Four Points by Sheraton hotels in nearly 30 countries, from Nigeria to Santiago to Shanghai and Milan to Milwaukee, Four Points hotels can be found in big urban centers, by the airport, near the beach, and in the suburbs. A recent $1 billion invested in renovations, conversions, and new-build hotels has made the brand stronger than ever.

Delta Air Lines is working with investigators in the United States and the Netherlands after objects that appeared to be sewing needles were found in sandwiches on four flights from Amsterdam to the US Thursday.

One person was injured and declined medical treatment after a flight landed in Minneapolis, Kristin Baur, a Delta spokeswoman, said in an interview Friday. The incident is being investigated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and officials in the Netherlands as well as Gate Gourmet, Delta’s caterer, she said.

“Delta is taking this matter extremely seriously and is cooperating with local and federal officials who are investigating the incident,” Baur said.

In addition to the Minneapolis case, single needles were found in a sandwich by a federal air marshal on a flight to Atlanta, by a passenger on a separate flight to Atlanta and in a sandwich that hadn’t been served on a plane to Seattle, Baur said. She didn’t know the extent of injury to the Minneapolis passenger.

After the discovery, Delta removed items prepared at the Gate Gourmet facility in Amsterdam and replaced them with pre- packaged foods. It pulled from the menu turkey sandwiches, which were served to customers in business class on the flights.

The sandwiches were prepared by Gate Gourmet, said David Fisher, a spokesman. He declined to comment further on specifics of the incidents because they are under investigation.

“We take this terribly upsetting situation very seriously,” Fisher said. “We immediately launched an investigation into this incident and are working in full cooperation with the authorities that are involved.”

No other incidents were reported on flights from Amsterdam to the US yesterday or today, Baur said. Atlanta-based Delta operates as many as 18 such flights daily, and flew 17 yesterday.

Gate Gourmet, the largest independent provider of catering and provisioning services for airlines and railroads, is a unit of Gategroup Holding AG, based in Zurich.

 

Source: Bloomberg