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

London’s Heathrow airport is grappling with a record passenger surge as competitors begin arriving for the Olympics amid mounting concern about travel and security arrangements for an event that starts next week.

Europe’s top air hub anticipated attracting 236,955 people yesterday, 47,000 more than the average and 3393 more than on July 31 last year, when the previous record was set. The surge has increased demands on the already stretched UK Border Force, while travellers to central London will find the main M4 highway restricted by the opening of a special lane for Olympic VIPs.

Britain’s Olympic preparations are subject to increased scrutiny after G4S Plc said last week it couldn’t meet the terms of a 284-million pound ($A443 million) contract to recruit 13,700 guards for the Games, forcing the government to assign 3500 extra soldiers to provide emergency security. About 500 multi- lingual volunteers will greet arrivals from more than 50 countries at Heathrow today, according to its owner BAA.

Olympic volunteers wait to greet arriving teams at Heathrow Airport.

“Today heralds the start of Britain’s biggest peacetime transport challenge and Heathrow’s busiest-ever period,” Nick Cole, BAA’s head of Olympic planning, said in a statement.

Competitors from countries including the US, Russia, the Netherlands, Cuba and the Ivory Coast arrived this morning, BAA spokesman Simon Baugh said, with Heathrow’s baggage carousels coping as planned with sports gear including sails from yachting teams and immigration queues lasting no more than 25 minutes.

Activity was focused on Terminal 4, the main base of SkyTeam alliance members such as Dutch carrier KLM and Moscow- based OAO Aeroflot, while most media and sponsors flew to the British Airways-dedicated Terminal 5, he said.

Waiting times at Heathrow’s immigration desks have been within targets set by the Home Office since new resources were added yesterday, BAA said in its statement. The airport operator said April 27 that waiting times had reached unacceptable levels after the Border Force was split from the Border Agency on March 1 with a brief to impose more rigorous checks.

 

Source: Bloomberg

Grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations, the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) announced Monday that the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has joined the organization as a destination member.

Chairman of ICTP, Juergen T. Steinmetz, said: “We could not find a better representative to be our first destination member from Nigeria than the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation itself. It has a long history of commitment to and passion for the tourism industry in its country.”

On Nigeria’s registration as a destination member of ICTP, Director General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, remarked: “Nigeria is blessed with abundant cultural tourism and diversity. To complement this legacy is the uncommon warmth and hospitality of Nigerians. Foreigners are often amazed when they visit Nigeria and experience the Nigerian hospitality, and they always look forward to coming back.

“We have continued to explore international market platforms to promote Nigeria, and in ICTP, we find an enduring partner in our quest to celebrate Nigeria, while adapting to the latest practices in tourism development. Welcome to Nigeria, the home of abundant tourism potential.”

Organized tourism in Nigeria dates back 50 years when The Nigerian Tourist Association was established in 1962 by a group of private practitioners. It was their aim to project Nigeria’s tourism potentials and encourage domestic and international tourism activities.

Within a couple of short years, in 1964, their work led to the admission of Nigeria as a full member of the International Union of Official Travel Organization (IUOTO), now known as the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), along with the establishment of the Nigerian Tourism Board.

On his part, ICTP President Prof. Geoffrey Lipman said: “Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa with significant ‘travelism’ promise. As a member of ICTP, the Tourism Development Corporation will have a great opportunity to build environmental management at the heart of its development strategies. We look forward to working with them and Nigeria’s aviation and tourism community.”

ICTP is a community-based travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. The organization’s logo represents the strength in collaboration (the block) of many small communities (the lines) committed to sustainable oceans (blue) and land (green).

ICTP engages communities and their stakeholders to share quality and green opportunities including tools and resources, access to funding, education, and marketing support. ICTP advocates sustainable aviation growth, streamlined travel formalities, and fair coherent taxation.

The organization also supports the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and a range of programmes that underpin them.

ICTP has members in Anguilla; Aruba; Bangladesh; Belgium, Belize; Canada; China; Croatia; The Gambia; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Grenada; India; Indonesia; Iran; Korea (South); La Reunion (French Indian Ocean); Malaysia; Malawi; Mauritius; Mexico; Morocco; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Northern Mariana Islands (USA Pacific Island Territory); Sultanate of Oman; Pakistan; Palestine; Rwanda; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Trinidad & Tobago; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe; and from the US: Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Missouri, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

Partner associations include: African Bureau of Conventions; African Chamber of Commerce Dallas/Fort Worth; Africa Travel Association; Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association; Cultural and Environment Conservation Society; DC-Cam (Cambodia); Euro Congres; Hawaii Tourism Association; International Delphic Council (IDC); International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT); International Organization of Electronic Tourism Industry (IOETI); Positive Impact Events, Manchester, UK; RETOSA: Angola – Botswana – DR Congo – Lesotho – Madagascar – Malawi – Mauritius – Mozambique – Namibia – South Africa – Swaziland – Tanzania – Zambia- Zimbabwe; Routes, SKAL International; Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH); Sustainable Travel International (STI); The Region Initiative, Pakistan; The Travel Partnership Corporation; vzw Reis-en Opleidingscentrum, Gent, Belgium; as well as university and educational institute partners.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage List has 26 new sites, including first-time entries for Palestine, Chad, Congo and Palau. The committee, which met in St Petersburg from June 24 to July 6, added five sites to its prestigious list classed as “natural”, one classed as “mixed” (natural and cultural) and 20 classed as “cultural”, bringing the total to 962 properties in 157 countries.

16  of the 26 new World Heritage sites are from outside of North America and Europe, signalling UNESCO’s commitment to addressing the list’s geographic imbalance by including more sites from Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands, Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the Arab states.

Sites outside of Europe and North America making the list include the first capital of the Côte d’Ivoire, the colonial town of Grand Bassam, and the 13th-century Chinese site of Xanadu, the capital city under the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan.

Chad and the Congo made the list for the first time with natural sites, a series of interconnected lakes and a national park, respectively, and Palau’s Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, which consists of 445 mushroom-shaped islands, added in the mixed site category.

Despite strong objections from Israel, Palestine made its debut with the inscription of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to the World Heritage in Danger list. Palestine, which controversially gained membership to UNESCO in 2011, says the church is in desperate need of restoration work. The church is built on the site of Jesus’s birthplace.

Meanwhile, reports of the continued desecration and destruction of tombs in Timbuktu led the committee to add sites in northern Mali to its “danger” list. Islamists from Ansar Dine, the rebel group that seized control of northern Mali and Timbuktu in May, have systematically attacked several mausoleums in the region in recent weeks including the tomb of the Muslim scholar Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar. The committee condemned the destruction of these sites and placed Timbuktu and the 15th-century Tomb of Askia in the city of Gao, 300 kilometres from Timbuktu, on its “danger” list.

It also appealed to Mali’s neighbours to help prevent the illicit trafficking of the country’s cultural heritage, especially its vast collection of ancient manuscripts. The committee urged UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, to create a fund to help conserve Mali’s heritage and called upon like-minded organisations to contribute to the fund.

Social media could destroy the mystery of Africa, but specialists will thrive as a result, according to a panel of senior African tourism businesses at the latest World Travel Market Meridian Club Think Tank, which took place Tuesday, July 10.

Senior buyers with responsibility for Africa met in central London this week under Chatham House rules, ensuring that all guests’ comments were unattributed. Tour operators, agents, sports tourism, and online businesses were represented.

A recurring point was that technology is playing a disruptive role in the African inbound market with more suppliers considering direct sales. Travellers have access to a wealth of information, putting pressure on specialist tour operators and agents to offer truly personalized service and product, at a competitive price.

One up-market operator explained that the vast majority of new business referrals for its business were sourced online, with a big investment in natural and paid search marketing delivering top-end clients.

The full impact of social media will come in two or three years, it was said. The “mystery of Africa” is under threat but the specialists insisted that this would work in their favour as experience of the product was vital in converting leads.

Opinions were divided over the commoditization of Africa, based on the possible impact of new low-cost carriers. Travellers would find it easier to dynamically package a trip to Africa with a better domestic network, while the luxury operators were looking forward to moving their high-paying guests around more efficiently.

Elsewhere, concerns were expressed over a reduction in the number of direct flights between the UK and Africa. Airlines’ marketing and PR of their African destinations has a direct benefit to the entire region and its brand.

United Kingdom airlines could lose out as Gulf-based carriers add capacity to Africa. Some guests noted that they are marketing stopovers at their hubs to create packages to Africa.

Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman World Travel Market Fiona Jeffery, said: “The first Think Tank dedicated to Africa gave us an even deeper insight into the needs of buyers and suppliers.

“The specifics of Africa as an inbound destination are many, and we will ensure that WTM 2012’s Africa programme reflects global and local trends.”

Independent analysis of exhibitors in the Africa region at WTM 2011 found that contracts signed on site or resulting from follow-up meetings accounted for business worth £152m.

 

Courtesy: WTM

Check Safety First has announced that 60 big name hotels including  Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Barcelo and Hard Rock Hotels have signed up to the RoomCheck auditing system, following the successful launch of its room hygiene module in January.

This comes at a time when hotels are demanding a more scientific approach to maintaining cleanliness and ensuring standards are consistent throughout.

Mark Harrington, CEO at Check Safety First, said: “Hotel rooms with poor hygiene standards are health risks and can lead to the transmission of infections such as staphylococcus aureus, E. Coli and norovirus, to name a few. Hotels tend to think they are on top of hygiene but even the most luxurious ones can slip up. This can not only damage a hotel’s reputation but lead to potential lawsuits.”

RoomCheck uses forensic techniques such as ultraviolet lights that illuminate stains and problems associated with pests. Monthly bedrooms and bathrooms audits also ensure that no hygiene issue is left unidentified.

The module is part of Check Safety First’s E-Cristal risk management system which helps protect some of the world’s leading hotels from risks such as food safety, hygiene, legionella control, fire and general safety.

Africa airport infrastructure development and investment must be improved for the continent’s aviation industry to continue to grow, according to OAG’s latest Aviation Market Insight Report.

Analysis from OAG, the global leader in aviation intelligence and a UBM Aviation brand, reveals that whilst airline capacity has grown recently within Africa broadly in line with GDP increases, at 5 per cent annually, the expansion has not been matched by investment within the airport infrastructure.

According to the report, the smaller airports across the region are still struggling with infrastructure challenges combined, in some cases, with general poor facilities. And as widely reported in the world’s media, most states lack the ability to accommodate transit passengers between airports. If the economies of these countries are to fully realise their potential and aspired growth plans, then the airport infrastructure will have to be addressed and more progress made.

Where infrastructure investments have been made in Africa, the aviation industry has flourished the report maintains. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Nigeria, Kenya and of course South Africa. In 2011, South African Airways posted revenues of almost US$3bn, up by 2 per cent compared to 2010, whilst Kenya Airways, who joined the Skyteam Alliance in 2010, reported year-on-year revenue growth of 21.3 per cent up to US$988m.

No doubt due to its huge geographic expanse, the continent has traditionally been overlooked for more established destinations by investors. Is that all set to change?

International Sales Director (Europe & Africa) at OAG, Mory Camara, believes it is, pointing to China’s increasing influence within the region, “China looks to be taking a long-term investment approach in Africa, with the Strategic Mineral Reserve and the China-Africa Development Fund two examples of China’s developing relationships in Africa. As the economic benefits of these trade arrangements are felt on the continent, the Aviation industry and the demand for air travel will increase as it has done in other countries as they were developing”.

The optimism for the future though is tempered by the basic fact that the infrastructure needs to be developed in line with the rate of development of the carriers. Only by bringing the governments, airlines and investors together can Africa really start to develop its potential.