nigeriaThe Federal Government has secured the sum of US $300 million as loan to finance the transport sector and Economic Governance Reform Programme as well as the Nigeria Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for the period 2013-2017, from pan-African banking group, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

The loan which was approved Wednesday by the Board of Directors of the bank in Abidjan, aims to support the Federal Government to accelerate reform implementation in the areas of transport sector governance, and public expenditure management.

Reform measures include the establishment of a Federal Road Authority, National Road Maintenance Fund, Road-Tolling Policy, and Axel Load Control Policy.

In the areas of public financial management reform, the programme involves the adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), Internal Audit Modernization Plan, Treasuring Single Account (TSA), Government Integrated Public Financial Management (GIFMIS), and Transparency and Compliance in Procurement and Audit Practices.

The programme will also create fiscal space for increased investment in road infrastructure development. It is an integral part of a broader set of interventions of the Bank designed to support Nigeria’s Transformation Agenda with emphasis to economic governance and infrastructure development.

The Country Strategy Paper outlines the bank’s engagement and assistance to Nigeria.

According to AfDB sources, it will focus on two strategic pillars, namely supporting the development of a sound policy environment, and investing in critical infrastructure to promote the development of the real sector of the economy.

The strategy is aligned with the President Goodluck Jonathan’s long term economic transformation and development agenda.

nigeriaWith over seven thousand new hotel rooms already earmarked for the year 2013, Nigeria extensively leads the rest of sub-Saharan Africa in the volume of pipeline hotels planned for the year in review, just as the overall number of planned new hotel rooms in the development pipeline in Africa saw a considerable increase in figures.

This were the highpoints of a research by Lagos-based W Hospitality Group, released Wednesday, which showed an increase of 16 per cent for development pipeline in Africa compared with year 2012  figures for the region.

With the near completion of the Ibis, in Ikeja, owned by the new entrant Accor Group, as well the Intercontinental Hotels, Victoria Island, among a high list of other emerging international brands venturing into Nigeria, the research places Nigeria as one of the leading and driving markets for international hotel brands in Africa.

The newly-released research also focuses on newly planned rooms for the country and is based on a sample of 29 international hotel chains with 59 brands among them.

“As in previous years, the details show a tale of two Africas; the sub-Saharan and the North African regions,” W Hospitality Group said, further adding: “In North Africa, the development pipeline grew 9 per cent, from 17,217 planned new guestrooms in 2012 to 18,782 rooms in 77 hotels in 2013.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, however, the chains’ pipeline now stands at 21,052 rooms in 130 hotels, up from 17,109 rooms in 100 hotels a year ago, a 23 per cent increase.”

According to the W Hospitality research, the five countries of North Africa all appear in the top 10 countries for new hotels in Africa, led by Egypt (7,644 planned new hotel rooms), Morocco (5,178) and Algeria (3,160).

“In sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria has by far the largest pipeline, with 7,470 planned new rooms. The companies leading the way are Hilton Worldwide with 6,230 rooms in its African pipeline, Carlson Rezidor with 5,947, Accor with 5,165 and Marriott with 3,900.

“The main reasons for the slower growth in North Africa include the opening of hotels in the 2012 pipeline, particularly in Algeria, a reduced investment focus on North Africa due to political concerns and a greater emphasis on development in sub-Saharan markets,” said Trevor Ward, managing director of W Hospitality Group.

“There is a boom in Africa in all sectors, including hotels. Economic growth in many countries is 6 per cent or higher, and global investors are looking at the continent in a much more serious and sophisticated way,” Ward added.

Recall that last year, the W Hospitality Group’s research figures a had showed that international hotel brands drove development activities in Africa with almost 99,000 total rooms operating in Africa; around 44,300 in North Africa and 54,600 in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the beginning of 2012, the international hotel chains reported a total of 208 signed deals for hotels, with just over 38,000 rooms, in their development pipelines in Africa.

According to the survey, the 2.4 per cent increase in pipeline rooms in 2012 was eclipsed by the international chains’ advances in sub-Saharan Africa where, despite a reduction in 2011, the 2012 was forecast with a massive 42 per cent increase in pipeline rooms.

Hotel brands’ development activities in Africa also showed that Accor’s Ibis remains the brand with the most hotels in the pipeline although Carlson Rezidor’s Radisson Blu has the most guestrooms.

The average size of a new African Ibis is 140 rooms, while the Radisson Blus are 250 rooms. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Glattbrugg, Switzerland, opened a hotel in Accra in 2012, and have several hotels and Nile cruisers in their pipeline in Egypt, where they already have a strong presence. Despite their leading position, Ibis’ pipeline reduced in 2012 because they opened several hotels in 2011, including two in Equatorial Guinea where Accor, Courcouronnes, France, operate four of the five branded hotels in the country and although they signed new properties in Nigeria and Ghana, there was a net reduction in the pipeline of rooms.

nigeriaFestival Consultant of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival (LBHF), Prof Wole Soyinka, and the State Commissioner for Tourism and Inter-governmental Relations, Mr. Disun Holloway, have jointly appealed to the corporate sector to support the forthcoming festival in order to reduce the strain of funding which is now threatening to mar a successful organization of the annual tourism and cultural programme.

The Lagos Black Heritage Festival holds from March 25 to April 1, this year under the theme of Bring Back Brazil. The second tranche of the festival is planned for October 1 through to 10, with the full participation of Brazilian troupes and artistes.

Soyinka and Holloway, at a special media briefing at the Kongi’s Harvest Art Centre, Freedom Park, Lagos, Thursday, sought the participation of the organized private sector in the state to key in into the programmes of the festival in order for the state government to achieve its objective of economic empowerment for the ‘people of the state and for the companies to exploit the festivals to broaden their gains.

“What we are experiencing in terms of problems is the non-participation of the corporate organizations especially those in the state. Let’s face it, the Brazilians are coming this October and the event was endorsed by the Brazilian President when she visited Nigeria last week. So we need corporate sponsors to enable us execute our programmes,” said Soyinka.

On his part, Holloway said the Black Heritage festival expects to host over 300 artistes in what is billed as the biggest tourism and cultural showcase since Festac 77, hence the urgent need for the participation of the corporate sector in the state to leverage on the reach and platform presented by the festival to promote their brands as well as help the state realise its aim of empowering the youth through job creation.

“We urge the participation and active involvement of the corporate organizations in the state to play their part. These events have a way of positively impacting on the workforce that in turn benefit the corporate organizations in the state.

“For the families, I can only say please come out and be part of it. Bring out your children since it is the last day of Easter. This is what the Lagos State government wants; to see the economic empowerment of the youth though gainful employment for them through the festival and also good business for the corporate sector which are participating,” Hollolway stressed.

Holloway also used the occasion of the media briefing to alert motorists in the state on the planned closure of the Awolowo Road, Ikoyi and its adjoining roads as these form routes of the Street Carnival, which is the highlight of the LBHF on April 1.

“The Awolowo Road and its adjoining roads in Ikoyi will be closed from 8 am for the Street Carnival as these are the routes of the carnival but the roads leading into the areas from Victoria Island or the roads in Victoria Island remain open. So if you have business to attend to in the Ikoyi environ especially around Awolowo Road be sure to come before 8 in the morning,” the commissioner sounded.

Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) accompanied by the Holloway, have toured some monuments and tourist sites along the Badagry axis of the State as part of efforts of the State Government towards exploiting the tourism potentials of Badagry while creating job opportunities and empowering the youths.

The Governor, who led other members of the State Executive Council, inspected ongoing projects which include the Viekete Slave Market at Posukoh Quarters and the reclamation site of the Marina shoreline.

Fashola, while expressing his government’s determination to reposition tourism and create jobs, restated the commitment of his administration to making life meaningful for the citizenry. He maintained that the expansion of the Lagos Badagry Expressway was part of government’s resolve to bring further development to the State.

According to him, the State Government is constructing the road network around the historical town as part of its resolve to develop the axis. He opined that with the right infrastructure in place, there is bound to be an influx of tourists, adding that this will indirectly generate income for the State and provide jobs for the citizenry.

While conducting the Governor and other cabinet members round the sites, the Commissioner explained that the purpose of the visit was to get an update on ongoing projects in order to attend to the challenges facing consultants and contractors. He pledged the Ministry’s determination in ensuring that all projects are completed soon.

The State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Commissioner for Works, Obafemi Hamzat, and his Health counterpart, Jide Idris, were among those who joined the Governor on project inspection of the Lagos State VIP Chalets.

sista power pixAs the theme of collaborations ran through the Coral Hall, Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island,  Lagos, venue, of a seemingly quiet public unveiling of the book, Sista Power,  the issues thrown up went beyond the book itself to throw up a fundamental challenge confronting the womenfolk in the present Nigerian society.

Written by Bidemi Mark-Mordi, the book Sista Power shoulders the now uncomfortable burden of disquiet burning in the hearts of a few Nigerian women attempting to become catalysts for social change; seeking a redefinition of the female stereotype, who has settled into and assumed indifference to discomforting family, political and culturally issues thrown up in the larger society on a daily basis.

For Bidemi Mark-Mordi who is also Publisher of the Effectual magazine, as well as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Verbatim Communications Limited, among a plethora of other positions and occupations held, the need for women to embrace the concept of collaboration in order to surmount challenges of stereotype, degenerating family, cultural and social values has become even more imperative in the present larger society than ever before.

It is this speed of degeneration that worries Bidemi Mark-Mordi to inspire the book Sista Power, written, according to her, purely by the inspiration of God and without any previous grasp with literary technicalities and being able to lay the foundations or sketch for it in two months.

Such is the passion behind the motivation that Bidemi Mark-Mordi’s debut work as an author in adopting a motivational and inspirational style with Biblical leanings, captures and promotes elements of communality, selfless service, mentoring, while exposing the fake and material lifestyles, self-centredness, pride, greed inherent in some womenfolk as obstacles to collaborations among the larger womenfolk.

Preceded by an open panel discussions featuring the likes of Iheoma Obibi, Executive Director, Ashoka Fellow, Alliances for Africa, Mr. Fagbemi, event’s moderator Unyime-Ivy King, author of Burning Hurt, and the book reviewer, Mr Kayode Akomolafe (Pastor), Principal Counsel, at Olukayode Akomolafe the Law Firm, the quiet unveiling was compeered by Mrs Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, with husband Prof Joe Ezigbo, Managing Director of Falcon Petroleum, as chairman of the occasion.

Moderating, Fagbemi noted that there exists a lot of insularity in the way the values of family, culture, leadership and religion have continued to degenerate in the society as also contained in the book, as he wondered if ‘there is a more concerted effort among culprits to outdo those fighting for positive change,’ as he added that the book has also succeeded in pinpointing this insularity.

For Obibi, the effect of women collaborating is a change agent in itself capable of stemming the tide in the falling standards staring society and family units in the face and by extension has seen corruption and poor leadership on the rise with societal values plummeting.

“Embracing the mentality and culture of collaborations among the womenfolk will begin to impact on the women themselves in the way they think. It means thinking outside the box for those whose opinions are closed,” she said.

According to book reviewer, Mr. Kayode Akomolafe, Esq, Principal Counsel, the Olukayode Akomolafe law firm, Ikeja, Lagos, the very concept of the ‘midwife’ is an interesting one which runs through the entire book, in tandem with the central theme of ‘collaboration’.

“The book succinctly identifies God as the ‘webmaster’ who intricately weaves the fabric of our lives into a delicate connection of destinies. This theme is properly enunciated by the author in Chapter 6.

“The high point of the book, for me, is contained in page171 thereof, where the author discusses: ‘The Master’s Business Requires Haste’. The striking point for me is the staggering realisation that there is a possibility that in one failing to rise up to fulfil one’s part in the divine collaboration to be a midwife to someone else’s destiny, that person’s destiny may be negatively impacted or indeed stultified,” Akomolafe said.

For Mrs. Modupa Ehirim, President of the Christian Booksellers Association of Nigeria (CBAN), the idea of collaborating should involve levels of mentoring such that children who are most vulnerable should be nurtured through a collective effort by the womenfolk.

“If you are merely satisfied with the way your own children are raised while you turn up your noses at other children, then just be sure that you will soon be dealing those same children in no time when they turn up at your doorstep with your own children. This is why the ‘my children’ mentality is anti-collaborative. Women should come together to help each other out too.” Ehirim posited.

Remarking, the author Bidemi Mark-Mordi who was full of gratitude to her family and her group for the support reiterated the imperativeness of collaboration for Nigerian women to pull through in salvaging falling leadership standards, dilapidating family and societal values ‘in order the save the future for the children,’ as she further stressed: “I’ve done my own bit, the ball is in your court now to take your step to collaborate, mentor, motivate and inspire the greater future of the society”

On the possible misconceptions by the public about any feminism agenda fronted by the author with the book, Bidemi Mark-Mordi said it was not true that it was feminist-inspired, but rather motivated by a need to rise up to an expedient challenge facing the womenfolk in the society.

“I’m not even a feminist let alone a woman liberationist I’m not even any of that. The word out there is that women cannot work together. You see it every day especially in Nigeria. In the book I talked about Dr. (Mrs.) Sarah Jibril, the PDP presidential aspirant who picked up one vote and the reason why she had just one vote is basically because as women we went around thinking that she can’t do it. Ironically it was not the men that told her she cannot do it, it was the women who told her she cannot do it. I remember immediately after the elections, I was at an event where other women were asking her all sorts of questions like; what was her plans, who she was working with and for. They somehow forgot the fact that this woman has tried her bit.

“The book is directed at women especially but everybody can get into it as well for whatever they can do with it in their lives. And also because it is the women that are told they cannot collaborate with each other and that you cannot work with a woman and also that everywhere women gather there is trouble. You know that’s the word. So I’m saying no to that. I’m just trying to let people know that there is so much that God has deposited into the women and if we keep telling ourselves that we cannot do it or if we keep letting people say to us that we don’t have the power to change anything then nothing is ever going to change.

“Look at our nation, the men they have tried but honestly they are out of ideas because every time you see them now it is what somebody did five years ago that they are redoing and give it another name. Let’s try something else. I don’t even want to be the President but I want to be able to provide my own little quota for that woman who wants to be. I don’t need to be the person at the forefront. I’m saying that my children live here. My children have grown here and they will continue to live here if they choose. Who do I blame if in twenty or thirty years Nigeria disintegrates just because I have refused to work with a gifted woman of change because she’s from somewhere that I’m not. You see it’s the boundaries that we have unnecessarily set up amongst ourselves as women are the problems here. And these boundaries are not even real because we are more alike than we are different,” stressed Bidemi Mark-Mordi.

On plans to promote the book, Bidemi Mark-Mordi revealed: “I have a book tour scheduled for Switzerland in April, and in the United States in May, but all of this March will be dedicated to the promotion of this book in the Lagos metropolis. And it will not just be merely about come buy the book, it will provide the forum for some hard talk about issues, some of which I have already spoken about.

“What I’m talking about in the book honestly is not new. I’m just able to put together in the way that I’ve been taught to put it together and simplify it so that it’s easy to assimilate. So that’s basically what I’ve done.”

Also involved with the Women Act Now, basically a mentoring non-profit organization dedicated to the well bring and nurturing of young women in Africa by way of mentoring through more experienced womenfolk, Bidemi Mark-Mordi expects to take the Sista Power to a brand level.

“We are in the process of distilling Sista Power into a product. We intend to train and collaborate with corporate organizations out there. We are hoping to go into radio and television talkshows in the country. In fact we plan to do the village square fora. And all of these will be such that it is not just the woman in the city but also the woman in the village who recognizes that if ten of us do esusu (thrift) together and allow one person to take and we push that person into the right kind of business then all us can go home and drink garri until it comes to the turn of the next person.

“You see I keep saying this that I’m not a very smart person, I’m infact I don’t even want to be smart. I just know that the little I know and the little you know by the time we all come together to talk you’ll go away gaining more and I’ll go away gaining more. That’s how we build it into a brand.”

one managementIt was a star studded event as One Management a leading entertainment outfit run by Emem Ema of hit group, Kush, opened its new office complex and state-of-the-art audio and video recording facility designated as ‘The Cave’ at the heart of the highbrow Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The roll call of who-is-who in the entertainment business representing both music and film were present. These included the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Lagos – Professor Duro Oni, Tajudeen Adepetu, owner of Consolidated Media Associates (Sound City), Mr. Emeka Mba, former Director General of the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board; veteran actors Olu Jacobs and wife Joke Silva Jacobs, Honourable Enobong Uwah, the Commissioner for Environment, Akwa Ibom State.

Others include: Dr. Chidi Okpaluba, GM/CEO Quartermaster Nigeria Ltd., TY Bello, Audu Maikori, the Chocolate City Group boss, Bimbo Akintola, Ireti Doyle, Najite Dede, Owen Gee, Timi Dakolo, Koffi, Efa, Bayo Omisore, Nollywood producer Charles Novia, ace script writer-Tunde Babalola, Mr. Makin Soyinka, the former Director- Lagos Film Office, Lekan Abdul MD/CEO of Cleanserve Energy.

The list also includes: Ayoola Sadare of Inspiro productions (the NAIJAZZ producers) –  Ojoma Ochai of the British Council, Raufu Ladipo, President General of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club of Nigeria, Yinka Adewole of Bond Energy, T-Joe a major music marketer and distributor, expatriates and celebrated designer Uche Nnaji and Omena Daniels of Ouch, amongst others.

The event kicked off with opening prayers by Reverend Betty Aworh, introductions were then made with Ms. Ema coming on to share the ethos and vision of ONE Management. Her address touched on the journey of the company from inception since 8 years and its current position. After that the facility was officially opened by Professor Duro Oni assisted by Tajudeen Adepetu with Mrs. Ema and Dr. Okpaluba supporting.

According to Emem, the move behind the new location and new recording equipment for video and audio productions was also a way to announce the company’s new resolve to up the ante and upgrdade from what it had been doing for nearly a decade now.

“This is also what I would call One Management 2.0, a new place for business as we venture into digital audi and video productions from just simply managing artistes that we have been previously known for nearly a decade now,” stressed Emem.

A guided tour of the ‘The Cave’ was later conducted with guests commending and commenting on the state-of-the-Art facility which boast the following, a fully functional recording studio which runs on pro-tools 10 and Cubase 7 with the latest universal audio sound card and AKG Grammy award winning producer-endorsed microphone; while the video recording suite runs on the creative suite 6, the latest version of final cut pro and is a fully functional (non-linear editing suite and animation design studio. Cameras include The RED series for 35mm for film making.

The event effectively compeered by Tolu and Ayoola Sadare continued into late evening with the Red Carpet interviews and networking with lots of food and drinks for guests. Inspiro’s NAIJAZZ All-star band which included Dapo Dina, Victor Ademofe and Imole Afrika was on hand to provide the entertainment supported by the crew’s DJ Lami.

All the One Management staff and artistes under the record label like Ebisan, Wizboyy, Provabs, Joseph Benjamin, Kemi Lala, Dipp and Styl-Plus supported  by the One Management resource team who run the day to day business of the one stop media and entertainment solutions company were all on hand at the event.

The LifeHouse Music has concluded plans for a benefit concert in celebration of musical women and female musicianship tagged: Woman Rising: The Concert, and billed for Sunday, March 17 at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Woman Rising Concert by the LifeHouse Music is held in collaboration with the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Featuring a diverse group of talented and highly skilled female musicians across various music genres and top Nigerian acts like Waje, Ruby, Modele, as well as TemiDollFace, Ranti, Fatima, Omolara and guest poet Mozella, the concert is billed as the group’s first showcase of 2013, and also in special celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD).

“Our IWD celebrations have infused various aspects of the arts (literature, visual art, dance, film) over the past 3 years and this year we are proud to continue in that tradition. This year we are especially inspired by the ambience of The Wheatbaker Hotel and jointly present an intimate evening of soul, jazz and the spoken word to a unique and enthusiastic audience,” said the LifeHouse Music in a release to M2A.

According to the organizers, “Proceeds from Woman Rising will be donated to our beneficiary charity, United for Kids Foundation (UKF) We are also thrilled to share the evening with a host of respected creatives, thinkers and culture enthusiasts who will read interludes of poetry throughout the night including Sandra Obiago, Doris Fafunwa, Chuma Nwokolo, Wale Ajadi, Jahman Anikulapo, Lola Shoneyin, Wana Udobang, Lala Akindoju, and Lanre Shasore to mention only a few.”

The Woman Rising concert is sponsored by host of corporate organizations including; the Wheatbaker, Arra Vineyards, Smooth 98.1FM, House of Tara, Zebra Living, Montaigne Place & Madbursts Photography.

“Each year we declare March women’s month at The Life House Music and this year is no exception,” assured the organization.

nigeriaThree months after announcing that the Ministry of Health will commence the sole printing of the new international certificate of vaccination and prophylaxis, for Nigerian international travellers, the minister, in December, last year, Professor Christian O. Chukwu has officially unveiled the now encoded yellow card.

Chukwu who launched the travel document during the pre 56th National Council on Health (NCH), Monday, also announced that henceforth the Ministry of Health would be the sole manufacturer of the cards while the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would distribute the cards after it has vaccinated the bearer.

It would be recalled that during the monthly review meeting of traditional rulers in Kaduna State involved in polio eradication campaign, last December, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Ray Nihar, hinted that Nigerians travelling abroad would henceforth be compelled to take the oral polio vaccine by May 2013 against the backdrop of the rising cases of the deadly disease.

Nihar had also informed that the WHO would issue a standing recommendation to all nations under the International Health Regulations, adding further that children and adult travelling out of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan must be certified as having been vaccinated against polio “to reduce the substantial risk of the virus spreading to polio-free countries”.

On his part, the health minister who had also announced when receiving the newly appointed WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Rui Gamavaz, at his office in Abuja, in December, that his ministry will commence the sole production of yellow cards for Nigerian travellers said the move followed the embarrassing mass deportation over 100 Nigerians by the South African Immigration department in March, last year, on suspicion of possessing fictitious yellow cards.

Unveiling therefore the now encoded yellow cards in Abuja, at the NCH in Abuja, Chukwu explained that the previous decentralisation of production of the yellow card to curb scarcity had inadvertently led to the multiplicity of cards and subsequent abuse of the cards by persons and agencies of government.

In March, last year, the issue of questionable yellow cards in circulation led to the holding of 125 Nigerian travellers at the O R Thambo International Airport, Johannesburg, and their subsequent deportation, which in turn led to the Federal Government, in a retaliatory measure, deporting an undisclosed number of South African residents in Nigeria over the same period.

Chukwu also added that Nigeria had established collaboration with the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunisation (GAVI) to ensure effective control of any unforeseen eventuality that might arise as a result of outbreak from neighbouring countries.

“On the yellow fever aspect, the issue we have with South Africa diplomatically, it has been resolved but for the health aspect. What we are doing now, we are printing new yellow cards, which once they are printed, these ones have better security features and they will gradually replace the old yellow card.  We are walking with GAVI now to some extent they have accepted our proposal for a campaign for yellow fever. So, if able by next year with the assistance of GAVI we will source yellow fever vaccines we will begin a special campaign,” Chukwu had said in December.

best beachA remote beach in Sicily, Italy, has been named as the best beach in the world by a survey of travellers, while an Australia beach came in third.

Rabbit Beach came top in the first annual awards for the world’s best beach based on millions of reviews and ratings by international tourists on the TripAdvisor website.

Rabbit Beach, on the island of Lampedusa off the south coast of Sicily, was described as an unspoiled nature reserve that can only be accessed by boat and one of the few places in the Mediterranean where loggerhead sea turtles go to lay their eggs.

“Rabbit Beach’s is clearly a big hit with travellers and it’s easy to see why with its stunning turquoise water and white sand,” said TripAdvisor spokeswoman Emma Shaw, adding that the award would be a boost for Sicily’s tourism.

Beaches in Brazil, Spain, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Aruba also featured in the top 10, praised for their white sands and swaying palm trees.

Whitehaven Beach is on Whitsunday Island, the largest island in the Whitsundays. The pristine silica sand of the beach stretches over seven kilometres along the island, and the beach has previous been named among the world’s and Australia’s best.

There was one big surprise in the TripAdvisor list: coming 10th was Rhossili Bay in Swansea, Wales, which beat beaches in Hawaii, the Caribbean and more exotic locations to make the top 10 list.

Rhossili Bay, on the Gower Peninsula, stretches for five kilometres and its vast expanse of sand backed by sand dunes and towering cliffs make it popular with surfers, paragliders and ramblers.

“We are delighted, but not surprised, that Rhossili Bay has been acknowledged … We hope that many more visitors continue to enjoy its outstanding natural beauty,” David Phillips, leader of the City and County of Swansea, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for TripAdvisor said the best beach awards were based on the quality and quantity of traveller reviews and ratings for beaches on the website gathered over a 12-month period.

The Top 10 beaches in the world: 1. Rabbit Beach, Sicily – Italy; 2. Grace Bay, Providenciales in Turks and Caicos; 3. Whitehaven Beach, Queensland in Australia; 4. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha in Brazil;

5. Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco), Culebra in Puerto Rico; 6. Playa de las Catedrales, Ribadeo in Spain; 7. Lopes Mendes Beach, Ilha Grande in Brazil; 8. Horseshoe Bay Beach, Southampton Parish in Bermuda; 9. Eagle Beach – Aruba; 10. Rhossili Bay, Rhossili, Swansea – Wales, United Kingdom.

wttcFresh off the release of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) favourable 2012 global travel and tourism industry economic report, the organization’s president and Chief Executive Officer, David Scowsill, has expressed the optimism that same result would achieved this year

In a statement released early Thursday, Scowsill said: “2012 demonstrated again just how resilient the travel and tourism industry is. Despite many economic difficulties, last year, for the first time, we saw more than one billion international travellers cross an International border. This industry is an important driver for countries’ economic development and growth strategies. Our industry is responsible for creating jobs, lifting people out of poverty, and broadening horizons. But we need international institutions and governments to recognise its strength, to remove restrictive visa and tax regimes and to work with the private sector to stimulate that growth.”

According to the WTTC president, it is clear that the industry is going to be a significant driver of global growth and employment for the next decade. “The rise in emerging market destinations explains some of the strong growth in travel and tourism (particularly employment). As the shift from a manufacturing to a services’ economy increases in many countries, so the share of travel and tourism employment out of total employment will increase, as will the share of tourism’s contribution to total GDP.”

Growing faster than any other economy is China, WTTC’s report revealed. The organization, which is comprised of 100 of the most influential travel and tourism executives from around the world, even went on to predict that “China will overtake the United States to be the world’s biggest Travel and Tourism economy by 2023.”

WTTC’s report also claims that the travel and tourism industry has outperformed the global economy in 2012 – growing faster than manufacturing, retail, financial services and communications. “The industry has grown its total contribution to GDP by 3 percent and increased the number of jobs by five million to 260 million. It means that, for the first time, one in 11 of all jobs in the world are now supported by travel and tourism. More than 10 percent of all new jobs created in 2012 were from the industry.”

According to the WTTC economic research, in 2012, Travel & Tourism’s total economic contribution – taking account of its direct, indirect and induced impacts – was US$6.6 trillion in GDP (a rise of US$500 billion year-on-year), US$765 billion in investment and US$1.2 trillion in exports* (all 2012 prices). This contribution represents 9 percent of total GDP, 5 percent of total investment and 5 percent of world exports.

Among the 20 largest global economies (the G20), South Korea, China, South Africa and Indonesia performed best. Growth of less than 1 percent in Europe and 2 percent in the United States was counter-balanced by 10 percent growth in South Korea, 7 percent in China and South Africa and 6 percent in Indonesia.

WTTC is predicting the travel and tourism industry will expand its total contribution to GDP by 3.2 percent in 2013, faster than the 2.4 percent predicted for global economic growth. The industry is expected to support nearly 266 million jobs in 2013 and again outperform many other industries.

Separately, WTTC is currently preparing for this year’s edition of its annual global summit. This year, the summit is going to be held in Abu Dhabi from April 8 to 11. It has been confirmed that among the luminaries attending this year’s gathering is former US President Bill Clinton, who has signed on to deliver the event’s keynote address.

unwtoUnited Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has formally inaugurated the  “Monitoring Centre for Sustainable Tourism Observatories” at a ceremony on the Aegean Islands, the main archipelago of Greece.

This first Sustainable Tourism Observatory in Europe under the auspices of UNWTO will monitor the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism in the archipelago and serve as a model to expand the concept to a national level.

Established by the University of the Aegean in collaboration with UNWTO and with the support of the Ministry of Tourism of Greece, the Centre will monitor and implement sustainable tourism practices in close cooperation with the tourism public and private sector in the area of the Aegean.

“Greece is endowed with a rich cultural and natural heritage; it is evident that the relationship between tourism and the environment is a central concern for our national strategy”, said the Minister of Tourism of Greece, Olga Kefalogianni. Set in the framework of Greece’s special action program in collaboration with key environmental partners, such as the Academy of Athens, “any initiative contributing to this purpose finds the active support of the Ministry of Tourism”, she added.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai stressed that “the establishment of the Aegean Observatory will provide critical information to better manage the advancement of sustainability in one of the prime destinations of the Mediterranean”; adding that “only by better understanding the interaction between tourism and its surrounding, can we improve existing sustainable tourism initiatives and ensure that tourism continues to work for the local population and the destination as a whole”.

The Observatory of the Aegean Islands joins the five existing sustainable tourism observatories established in China under the auspices of UNWTO.