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ws prize 1The fifth edition of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature holding next month will be graced by at least three heads of state and other high profile local and international guests.
The three heads of state who have given commitment to be at the presentation of a book in honour of the Nobel Laureate three days after the announcement of the Prize winner are Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana.
The book presentation is slated for Accra, Ghana on July 8, 2014, three days after the presentation to the Prize winner on July 5 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Other distinguished individuals expected at the activities include Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and renowned Ghanaian author and former Education Minister in the Ghana government, Professor Ama Ata Aidoo.
The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature is a biennial event staged to recognise the best literary work produced by an African. It was established by the Lumina Foundation in 2005 to promote literary excellence in Africa and has since become the African equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
The organisers of the award have announced a longlist of 10 African authors from a total of 163 entries submitted from 17 African countries in the genre of Drama, which is the focus of the 2014 edition.
A shortlist of candidates for the prize is expected to be announced shortly, while the ultimate winner is expected to emerge on July 5.
As part of the activities to make the event colourful, Globacom has concluded plans to invite some of its subscribers as guests of honour. To stand a chance to be invited, the subscribers are encouraged to increase the usage of airtime on the Glo network by 50 percent before June 24. Subscribers chosen will receive special perks from the operator in addition to being celebrated on the special night.
For this edition of the prize, entries were invited from authors of any published play or collection of plays by the same author of African descent, published within the last two years (that is, a play published between 2012 and 2013). Globacom was also the main sponsor at the last edition.

 

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iata icaoThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) 70th Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously adopted a resolution that calls on governments and industry to work together on a balanced package of measures to effectively deter and manage the significant problem of unruly air passenger behaviour. Such behaviour includes committing physical assault, disturbing good order on board or failing to follow lawful crew instructions.

“This resolution confirms the determination of airlines to defend the rights of their passengers and crew. Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour. Many airlines have trained both ground staff and cabin crew in procedures not only to manage incidents of unruly behaviour but also in measures to prevent them. But a robust solution needs alignment among airlines, airports, and governments,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

The adoption of the AGM Resolution follows a Diplomatic Conference called by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at which governments agreed to modernize and strengthen the Tokyo Convention 1963. The result, known as the Montreal Protocol 2014 (MP14), provides a more practically effective deterrent to unruly behaviour by extending the legal jurisdiction for such events to the territory in which the aircraft lands.

“Governments have recognized that unruly passenger behaviour is a serious issue and we applaud the adoption of MP14 at an ICAO Diplomatic Conference earlier this year. Now, governments must ratify what they have agreed to,” said Tyler.

The definition of unruly behaviour is wide and includes non-compliance with crew instructions, consumption of illegal narcotics, sexual harassment, and physical or verbal confrontation or threats. In 2013, the number of incidents of unruly behaviour voluntarily reported to IATA by airlines reached some 8,000 cases. Intoxication, often resulting from alcohol already consumed before boarding, ranks high among factors linked to these incidents. Other causes include irritation with another passenger’s behaviour, frustration with rules such as smoking prohibitions or use of electronic devices or emotional triggers originating prior to flight.

Reflecting the broad number of factors associated with unruly behaviour, the Resolution’s core principles on unruly passengers take a wide-ranging approach to the issue. In addition to calling on governments to ratify MP14, the core principles include calls for:

Airlines to ensure that they have in place corporate policies and appropriate training programs for cabin crew and ground staff to enable them to prevent or manage disruptive passenger behaviour, including at check-in, during security search, and at the gate.;

Governments and airlines to raise awareness of the consequences of unruly behaviour;

Airports and airport concessionaires such as bars and restaurants to implement procedures that could help prevent unruly behaviour on flights;

“Each incident of unruly behaviour marks an unacceptable inconvenience to passengers and crew. A united and balanced approach to the prevention and management of unruly passengers by governments and industry is vital. Governments should adopt all the legal powers at their disposal to ensure unruly passengers face the appropriate consequences for their actions. Airlines, airports, and others must work together to implement the right procedures and train staff to respond effectively to such instances,” said Tyler.

world travel awardsMorocco has been unveiled as the host for the World Travel Awards Grand Final 2014, 2015 and 2016 following the signing of a three-year hosting agreement during a ceremony hosted at Arabian Travel Market.

The announcement was made at the press conference jointly hosted by World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke, Moroccan Minister of Tourism, His Excellency Dr. Lahcen Haddad, and Mohammed Arkobi, Chairman of Innovate Marketing Solutions.

Speaking at the event World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke said: “This is a momentous day for World Travel Awards and for the Moroccan tourism industry.

“Morocco is the ideal destination for World Travel Awards; growing rapidly to become the leading tourism destination in the region.

“There is so much to offer, from the beaches of Agadir, to the splendour of the Atlas Mountains and the cosmopolitan chic of downtown Rabat.”

The first event will take place in the beautiful city of Marrakech later this year.

Discussing the role of Innovate Marketing Solutions in securing the deal, Graham Cooke added: “We look forward to building our relationship with Innovate Marketing Solutions, over the coming months ahead of the event.

“As World Travel Awards’ representatives their role in negotiating the contract with the Moroccan tourism authorities has been instrumental.”

Securing hosting rights for the World Travel Awards Grand Final is just the latest coup for Morocco, which has been able to use its reputation as one of the most politically stable destinations in the region to significantly increase its tourism revenue in recent years.

While Marrakesh has been a ‘must see’ destination for generations, Fez, Meknez, and capital Rabat are now joining the city on the global stage.

Dr. Lahcen Haddad added: “Morocco is an enchanting, hospitable land full of mystery, wonder and cultural richness.

“One of North Africa’s top tourist destinations, its dusty deserts, snow-capped Atlas Mountains, medieval medinas, and pristine beaches continue to delight and amaze visitors.

“Hosting the World Travel Awards Grand Final will be a defining event in enhancing the awareness of the Kingdom of Morocco among the most powerful leaders of the travel and hospitality industry”.

“We are delighted to be able to bring the WTA to morocco,” enthused Dr. Mohammed Arkobi, chairman of Innovate Marketing Solutions.

“We are true believers that morocco will be among top 20 tourist destinations in the world shortly.

“We believe in Moroccan hospitality and Moroccan ability.

“It was easy to the decision to host the World Travel Awards; it will showcase Morocco to the World Travel Awards’ global audience.”

The World Travel Awards Grand Final will follow a series of regional Gala Ceremonies, with events this year scheduled for Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Athens (Greece), Quito (Ecuador), Abuja (Nigeria), New Delhi (India), and the fantastic holiday island of Anguilla in the Caribbean.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Today, the WTA brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

fascinating nigeriaFor the average Aro indigene, the Ikeji Festival is not just another cultural fanfare, but a celebration of heritage, culture and roots.

Annually celebrated in pomp and fanfare, the Ikeji (literally meaning strength or power of the yam) festival which dates over a century remains one of the biggest and oldest cultural celebrations in the south east geopolitical zones and specifically among the Igbo in Nigeria. Just as it also occupies a prominent position in the national tourism calendar drawn up by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). This of course is going by the sheer size of the visitors who swarm the event’s revolving locations from far and near.

These facts also buttress reason for the corporate sponsorship which the festival has enjoyed in the past that had also served to validate as well as boost its draw and appeal to the indigenes in the Diaspora, who constitute a sizeable population of attendance at the celebrations.

The Aro are not new to the history books. The pre-colonial and colonial Nigerian history singles them as one indivisible ethnic clan which the imperialists could not subdue until an early 1901-1902 military invasion by the British colonialists. Such is the history of the Ikeji festival which had thrived on the soul of the clan from inception, hence making it one of the oldest festivals in Igboland.

Today, spread in two states in the south east; the Arondizuogu predominantly in Imo State, and the parent Arochukwu in present-day Abia State, the Aro have consistently marked the Ikeji in revelry without of course toning down on any of the traditional rites and norms that characterize the festival; with each state choosing its own Ikeji separate from the other’s.

Mazi Chris Robins Okoro (Okeoha Izuogu), the President General, Arondizuogu Patriotic Union who spoke to Daily Champion shortly after the Arondizuogu in Imo State celebrated their own Ikeji recently likens the Ikeji Cultural Festival of the Aro to any other thanksgiving celebrations around the world.

“Same way as the Jews keep their culture, we keep ours. Ikeji festival is all about maintaining the culture of a people. The Ikeji is a long held festival well over 300 years old. In America they say Thanksgiving Day, Martin Luther King Day and so on. In Brazil, they also have their festivals…Ours is a period when we access our roots. We pay homage to whom you owe homage. We have 12-13 autonomous communities in the whole village. It is a clan. Everyone should trace his own roots.

ikeji 1“Ikeji Festival Day is a day when we say “thank you” papa or grandfather, remembering them as they lived. For instance, I am the sixth head in the linage, so we have to call the names of our predecessors and pray to God for the repose of their souls. We believe that if we do not do that (pay homage) and it is the beginning of the planting session the season may not go well. We believe that it is the strength of these our ancestors that makes our farming profitable. If they curse the land, then we are in trouble. Most times, we do Ikeji immediately after Easter.

“After the sacrifice, the next day is afor fun fare, masquerading and we have centres for the masquerades to perform. For example, Okigwe people enjoy their own on Afo, Ideato Nkwo and Onuimo, Eke. At the schools and market place you see different masquerades in attendance with our people enjoying themselves and different social clubs entertaining their guests,” Mazi Okoro said.

“Since I became the President General, I have tried to let people know that Ikeji is not about serving the deities and has nothing to do with religion. Some people are of the opinion that calling upon the names of your fore fathers is against religion, but there is a part of the bible that says: “you should respect the ordinance of man, be it to the kings or of the elders”. Some think it is idol worshiping, but that is not true. With Ikeji, our message to the world is that “any groups of people that forget their origin do not have the need to exist”. Like for me when we are calling all our lineages, our children got to know those that belong to our kindred so they will not marry from there, that much importance we attach to Ikeji.”

Waving away allegations that the festival is fetish and not in harmony with the orthodox religions, Mazi Okoro said: “We respect the Easter period when the Ikeji usually falls in. The relationship is that Easter is for the religious beliefs but this is traditional. Knowing that tradition does not have any quarrel with religion or Christianity, we have to do the Ikeji. Arondizuogu are predominantly Christians but everybody performs this ritual.

“If you do not know where you are coming from, you are likely not to know where you are going to. Our forefathers have sustained the event as the Jews sustain theirs. There is no where an Aro man settles that he will not remember his fatherland, even in Yoruba land. We have 36 settlements so wherever we are; our culture remains our culture, so we do not allow it to have any interface with Christianity.”

Arochukwu remains the headquarters of the Aro and it is based in Imo State. The largest Aro settlement is in Arondizuogu.

“Izogu is the man who founded that settlement that is why we call it Arondizuogu. If you go to some other areas, you find other Aro settlements, but they are minor settlements. Izuogu has the largest settlement of about 22 towns and so many villages. We are in three different local government areas: Okigwe, Ideato North and Onuimo Local Government Areas of Imo State. We attend that of Arochukwu because we migrated from a place called Amankwu in Arochukwu. So we attend theirs and they attend ours,” Mazi Okoro cleared the air on history.

It does not also go without saying that the Ikeji itself has been going through its own patch or fair share of tough economic times, in efforts by the Arondizuogu to sustain the annual celebrations, which Mazi Okoro noted has not been easy for the community in the face of changing economic times.

He said while previous editions which had been sponsored by the corporate sector had been successful, sponsorship began to witness hiccups from the 2007/2008 festivals.

Ndizogu picture: HRH Eze Enekwa Aniche, the Eze Nnaya of Aro-Oseimo, Arondizuogu receiving the Ikeji Festival Magazine from the President General, Arondizuogu Patriotic Union, Mazi Christ-Robins Okoro, Okoha Izuogu during the festival recently.

Ndizogu picture: HRH Eze Enekwa Aniche, the Eze Nnaya of Aro-Oseimo, Arondizuogu receiving the Ikeji Festival Magazine from the President General, Arondizuogu Patriotic Union, Mazi Christ-Robins Okoro, Okoha Izuogu during the festival recently.

“Since I became the president general of the union, the people have not told me what happened from the 2007/2008 editions. They did not tell us exactly what happened between the committee and previous sponsors, also telecommunications firm and then the community itself. We did not want to infringe on anybody’s right. However, by the time we realized, it was too late for us to look for corporate sponsors.

Remarkably, despite the prominence and corporate presence which the Arondizuogu communities have enjoyed via the Ikeji cultural festival for decades, it is another story entirely for the level of infrastructure in the area, which, aptly put, under-represents the economic potential the festival itself boasts of and the capacity of the Aro in Arondizuogu.

For Mazi Okoro, it is a fact that the cultural and tourism event based on its attraction alone has the capacity to boost tourism revenue for the state if well explored by both the state and the federal government, even as he further explained that it stood to benefit the people as well as the government.

“Attendance at Ikeji celebrations in the past has been on the increase and it keeps on increasing, All the hotels are occupied during the Ikeji. Unfortunately, prior to now, the picture people paint about Ikeji is that it is a time people go to worship deities, and humans are being slaughtered; but those are not true. Attendance at Ikeji festival has been pleasantly surprising to us because every year, the attendance keeps on increasing. Our people from far and near, abroad, come for the event.

“For instance, if you have a hotel that is about 50 rooms and all rooms are occupied during Ikeji for 1 week, you have gained. But what is sustainable is for the government to come and build our roads such as the one linking Onitsha to Okigwe built during the regime of Shehu Shagari. Unfortunately, the road is now bad and has been abandoned which forms part of the problem,” he explained.

Prejudice, is the choice of words Mazi Okoro picks to describe the perennial negligence of the Arondizuogu at the hands of successive political administrations in the state, which therefore becomes all the more worrying when placed against the backdrop of the huge economic potential which the Ikeji Fetival portends.

“In terms of development, it has been disappointing. We became the early life of the area producing great people like Mbonu Ojike, Ike Nwenu, Mbadiwe and others. We had about 11 industries in Arondizuogu in the years past. But subsequent governments did not see us as a people they should extend their patronage. There is no physical presence of government in our area.

“I think we are suffering from some long held prejudices. Quoting one of the past leaders, he said, ‘your fore fathers sold my great grand fathers to slavery so I cannot be your friend’. Truth is that the Aros were engaged in slave trade in the past, but that was in the past. Despite this past, we are the most hospitable people in Nigeria today. If you visit the Ikeji festival, there is all possibility that you will meet someone you may know. When it comes to government presence, we have nothing to show for it. Any development work such as electricity is done by the community. In fact we have scheduled to visit the government of Imo State to inquire why no attention is paid to our community as if we are not part of Imo State.

“In the past we had industries that employed as much as 3,000 people. Unfortunately, these industries are dead now because there are no roads and electricity. To improve the socio-economic impact of Ikeji, we are looking for corporate sponsors and investors in our land. Fortunately, we have a vast land for rice plantation. So, if these investors come, we hope to tell them about our potentials which they can tap into. However, for now economically, I can say the gains are personal because generally there has been no gain,” Mazi Okoro stressed.

In an age where governments at all levels are evolving mechanisms and policy frameworks geared towards exploiting every viable avenue to boost internally generated revenues (IGRs), and even in the face of the immense economic potential presented by the tourism sector as validated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), whether through the cultural, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE), medical, sports, heritage, Diaspora, and many other platforms, it is pertinent for the relevant authorities and organs of government to reposition the Ikeji Cultural Festival with a view to empowering the local communities and by extension boost earnings by the state.

Ikeji has till date been sustained by the sheer will power of the Aro to protect their heritage. At over a hundred years old, however, age is just a number for this cultural spectacle, just going by the numerical size of the Diaspora Aro who annually pay their way to the hosting community to witness the event.

This is an investment opportunity waiting to be tapped except that government needs to provide that atmosphere for it to thrive.

By Victor Nze

starwood logoThe Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, parent firm for the Sheraton brand and others in Nigeria, Monday, introduced a new SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) app for Google Glass. The web application is the first from a hospitality company to leverage this emerging, wearable technology platform.

The new SPG app for Google Glass empowers mobile travellers with a new view as they explore destinations and book stays at nearly 1,200 hotels worldwide. The new experience will enable guests to review their SPG account and immerse themselves in any of Starwood’s nine, design-led brands: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element®.

Creating new ways to be closer to its guests, Starwood’s new SPG app for Google Glass extends the company’s leadership and adoption of the latest digital technologies.

“Travellers are more tech-savvy than ever before, and wearable technology is the newest platform that provides information in an easy to access way to support the needs of our guests and enhance their travel experience,” said Chris Holdren, SVP SPG and Digital for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Our goal is to explore these new technologies and learn from our guests’ interactions with them so we can continue to deliver the best experiences at every point in their journey – from when our guests are dreaming about their next destination to when they walk in our front door and beyond.”

The SPG app for Google Glass was designed and built entirely by Starwood’s internal team of tech experts with the goal of delivering a seamless experience for its guests. The app is designed to assist travellers in each stage of their journey – from imaginative destination exploration to practical logistics planning before, during, and after a visit – all within a quick, easy, and streamlined format valued by on-the-go users of wearable technology. The SPG app for Google Glass is the only Glass app currently available that enables booking a stay at any of Starwood’s hotels around the world.

The personalized interface of the SPG app for Google Glass is ideal for any Glass Explorer, whether the guest is searching for upcoming business trips or a long summer vacation. The app provides users with critical account information, including number of Starpoints and upcoming and past stays to help travellers make the most of their SPG membership.

Highlights of the newly-unveiled web application include that: The SPG app for Google Glass takes advantage of Glass’s unique features, including voice command search and geo location, and is one of the first apps built on the new Glass Developer Kit; Members can voice search Starwood’s nearly 1,200 global hotels and resorts by destination, airport code or checking what’s nearby; Members can call or get turn-by-turn directions to any hotel and can also explore and share photos of the hotel amenities, rooms, local area, and more.

Other benefits are that: SPG Members can access up-to-date account information including Starpoint balance and upcoming stay details; and also that; Like the SPG smartphone and iPad apps, the SPG app for Google Glass uses state aware technology to display upcoming stays, recognize arrival at a Starwood property, and customize the user experience accordingly.

“Being the first in the hospitality industry to introduce an app for Google Glass illustrates our larger strategy to be the industry-leading digital innovator,” said Clay Cowan, VP Global Digital for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Starwood’s agility and scope has established our brands as early tech adopters, and we plan to maintain our lead with our innovative work in the digital space.”

The release of the SPG app for Google Glass beta product allows the Google Explorer network to give direct feedback to Starwood’s design and development teams, providing deeper insight into how different channels are used and what makes them meaningful to users. This insight, coupled with the in-house tech talent, will allow Starwood to continue enhancing the SPG app for Google Glass and develop other wearable technology products that best respond to the desires of the SPG community and further cement Starwood’s reputation as a leader in digital innovation.

World Golf Awards has announced that the Conrad Algarve will host its inaugural Gala Ceremony scheduled to hold from November 14-16, this year. The three-day sporting extravaganza will welcome industry leaders from around the globe to the unique event.

Conrad Algarve is one of the most modern five star hotels in the region. The luxury hotel is uniquely styled, from the guest rooms to the private balconies, from the majestic spa to the five individual restaurants and bars, offering a sophisticated range of fine Portuguese and international cuisine.

With contemporary design and technology flowing through the luxurious accommodation in harmony with beautiful natural surroundings, guests will find everything they require for a great holiday in the Algarve.

Golf resorts, hotels, tour operators and destinations are currently being urged to submit nominations for the inaugural World Golf Awards, with voting set to open on June 20th.

The awards ceremony on Saturday November 15th will form the centrepiece of a three-day itinerary for the event, allowing guests to enjoy some of the world-class facilities on offer at the famous Quinta do Lago Resort. Everything from a chauffeur driven airport pick-up, to a full 18-holes of golf on both the Friday and Saturday will be included in the weekend package.

Among the highlights will be a chance to play on the newly renovated Quinta do Lago North Course – a challenge for golfers of all standards set in a natural woodland setting of pine, gorse, heather and wild flowers.

Of course, the Gala Ceremony will see the global leaders in golf tourism crowned, with fierce competition expected in categories including Best Golf Destination, Best Golf Hotel, Best Golf Course, Best Golf Tour Operator, and Best New Golf Course.

Having already generated sustained media interest, Bloomburg Businessweek will be on hand to cover the event.

Ahead of the event World Golf Awards chief executive Chris Frost said: “What better location for us to host our inaugural Gala Ceremony than in the Algarve, one of the finest sports tourism destinations in the world, and what better location than the Conrad Algarve? Open for just over a year, the property has already established itself as an industry leader and it will be an honour for us to welcome our nominees to the hotel in November.”

Conrad Algarve General Manager Joachim Hartl added: “The Conrad Algarve is honoured to host the inaugural World Golf Awards Gala Ceremony. Home to legendary gold courses, the Algarve has long been considered a world class golfing destination.

“Enjoying spectacular views over the Ria Formosa Natural Park and encircled by Quinta do Lago’s award-winning golf courses, the hotel’s unrivalled connections makes it a golfer’s dream. With a golf concierge service, various different golfing offers available and a PGA qualified golf pro on hand to help with professional coaching, golfers are offered only the very best in facilities and services.

“After a hard day on the golf course, guests can soak up the smart luxury of Conrad Algarve’s indulgent spa, replete with soothing treatments for weary muscles, or dine at the contemporary Mediterranean restaurant – Gusto – run by Michelin-starred Head Chef Heinz Beck.”

Quinta do Lago Chief Executive, John Dwyer, also expressed his support for the event, saying: “It is a very exciting time at Quinta do Lago; significant recent investments have ensured the resort remains the freshest, most family-friendly venue on the Algarve. With a wide range of new packages designed to suit everybody’s requirements and a series of summer events to excite young and old, including the re-launch of our remodelled North Course, there’s never been a better time to visit the resort.

“Entering our fifth decade, hosting the first World Golf Awards is an absolute privilege but also a perfect match. With all the history of the resort, alongside the reputation we have managed to establish over the years, Quinta do Lago is continuing to improve its standards of quality and service. Alongside the Conrad Algarve, we are very proud to host the awards.”

fascinating nigeriaMinister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, has said the country is working with the Kenyan government over developing a framework to boost the tourism sector of the former country in the next 12 months.

Duke who said during an event to celebrate the launch of the air route operated by Kenya Airways from Abuja to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, expressed the hope that Kenya will help Nigeria find a strategy and link to develop the tourism sector.

The minister emphasized the need to develop the tourism sector in line with the Nigerian Government’s transformation agenda and added that the partnership with Kenya would ensure increased value in trade relations.

“Kenya is the benchmark in terms of African tourism; Nigeria is the benchmark in terms of oil and gas. Kenya has just discovered oil; Nigeria is helping to develop it,” said Duke.

According to the official, an implementation committee comprising officials of both countries has been set up to work out details of the framework which will be submitted for ratification and execution upon completion.

New research by W Hospitality Group, a founding member of Hotel Partners Africa, has placed the Carlson Rezidor international hotel chain at the head of the race to open new hotels in Africa. The annual Pipeline survey of the major international and African hotel chains reveals that more are opening in Africa in 2014 and they are growing their resource base in order to take advantage of the strong economies on the continent.

The survey is of 27 international hotel chains, with 60 brands between them, competing in Africa, with Carlson Rezidor and Hilton Worldwide out in front by a significant margin, each with over 6,000 rooms in development. Marriott International is next, followed by Starwood, Mangalis and IHG.

Of the international chains, Starwood had the largest percentage increase, up 39 per cent year-on-year, with developments planned in eight countries, four more countries than in 2013. Marriott also recorded a strong increase, 34 per cent up on last year. Mali-based Azalai has plans to become a dominant regional player, increasing its development pipeline with five more hotels and 679 more rooms compared to 2013.

A new entrant to the survey and to the African market, Mangalis, has stormed into the top 10 rankings. Of its 15 Noom and Seen hotels, with 2,210 hotel rooms in the pipeline, 11 are reported to be on site and scheduled to open between 2014 and 2016. Louvre Hotels Group, which has three hotel brands in Africa – Royal Tulip, Golden Tulip and Tulip Inn – reports that all of its projects are on site and that all but one are scheduled to open in 2014.

Having a closer look at the individual brands of those hotel chains, Radisson Blu and its sister brand, Park Inn by Radisson, occupy the first and third positions by number of hotels. However, the rankings of the two brands individually, slip to the second and fourth positions, when considering the actual number of rooms planned, overtaken by Hilton and Marriott, with larger properties.

The newcomer Mangalis sees both its two core brands in the top 10 rankings by the number of hotels planned – the Noom brand is ranked fifth with eight hotels planned, whilst the Seen brand ties in seventh position with Hilton Garden Inn, with seven hotels planned. The Noom brand also ranks eighth in the top 10 list of rooms planned, at 1,180 rooms.

At 295 rooms/ property, Hilton has the largest average room size in the top 10 list. It is followed closely by Courtyard by Marriott (289), Kempinski (261), Radisson Blu (255) and Sheraton (240).

Trevor Ward, Managing Director, W Hospitality, said: “It is our belief that the chain hotel pipeline in Sub Saharan Africa will continue to grow and that more international players will enter the market. This is because there is such a shortage of quality hotel accommodation in Africa. This research was conducted before Marriott completed its acquisition of South Africa-based Protea so it will be interesting to see how this will change the market in Africa – in particular if Hilton, Carlson Rezidor and other international chains will follow Marriott’s example and seek to grow by acquisition?”

Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events, organiser of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) which attracts all the major international hotel investors in Africa and where this report will be discussed in detail, added: “The main story of these findings is that more and new international hotel chains are seeking to play in Africa despite a relatively difficult operating market compared to Europe or China. It demonstrates that Africa, and especially the relatively untapped Sub Saharan Africa, is now being considered by the international investment community to offer attractive commercial returns.”

This year’s survey is based on the contributions from 27 hotel chains with 60 brands between them. Of these 27 hotel chains, 24 of them are already operating in Africa, with a total of approximately 84,000 rooms. The pipeline of new deals represents almost 50 per cent of the branded supply.

As official voting for the fourth regional heat of the 2014 Routes Marketing Awards opened, airlines from within the Africa region have been urged to consider the efficient use of marketing activities by an airport or destination over the last 12 months when deciding who to nominate.

Winners of the awards, which recognize the marketing performance of airports within Africa, will be announced during the Routes Africa Networking Evening which will be held on Monday, June 23, at the event in Victoria Falls.

The annual Routes Marketing Awards are highly regarded as the most prestigious awards in the industry as they are voted for and judged by the airline network planning community. They provide the airline community with the chance to have their say as to which airport or tourism authority they think provides the best overall marketing services to them whether this relates to their particular relationship, effective results, provision of data and information or innovative techniques to establish new or maintain and develop existing routes.

These much sought after awards are a great way for the winning airports to have a credible recognition which they can proudly talk about to their customers and other stakeholders. Kilimanjaro International Airport was announced as the winner of last year’s African heat and speaking at the time Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company’s Business Development Manager, Christine Mwakatobe said: “This has been one of the most amazing evenings for us at Kilimanjaro International Airport to win this award. We would like to thank all of the airlines that serve the airport for voting for us in this process and we are pledging our commitment that we will keep working hand-in-hand with all of our partners. Thank you for trusting in us and believing in us and giving us this wonderful opportunity to show the rest of Africa what we are doing at Kilimanjaro International Airport.”

This year the awards will be split into three categories as follows: Over 4 Million Passengers; Under 4 Million Passengers; and Best Destination Marketing Campaign.

The overall winner of the Routes Africa Marketing Awards 2014 will be automatically shortlisted, along with the winners of the other regional heats taking place through the year at all other Routes events, for the World Routes Marketing Awards which will be announced in Chicago this September.

Voting will remain open until Friday, June 6, 2014 and shortlisted airports will be announced shortly after this deadline.

unwtoThe newly-launched United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s Global Report on Shopping Tourism is said to offer a series of practical guidelines and principles for all destinations interested in developing shopping tourism.

The report includes a wide range of case studies by UNWTO Affiliate Members and other tourism stakeholders from around the world.

Presenting the report, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said: “Few sectors can boast of their power to inspire growth and create jobs as tourism and shopping can. Jointly harnessed, this can have an immense impact on a destination´s brand and positioning. UNWTO’s Global Report on Shopping Tourism also shows how public-private collaboration can channel the innumerable positive effects of this tourism segment”.

As part of the UNWTO Cities project, the Report explores the economic impact of shopping tourism and provides an overview of strategies and priorities employed by tourism stakeholders in order to foster sustainable growth and differentiation of the tourism offer in destinations.

The report is the eighth volume of the UNWTO Affiliate Member Reports, which address critical areas for the tourism sector against the backdrop of public-private collaboration and partnerships.

The study was produced in cooperation with Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna – Rimini Campus, the City of Venice, Deloitte Canada, the European Travel Commission (ETC), Global Blue, InnovaTaxfree, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art School for Advanced Studies in Tourism Sciences, the New West End Company, NYC & Company, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Tourism Malaysia, the Tourism Observatory of the City of São Paulo, the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia, Turisme de Barcelona, Value Retail and the Vienna Tourist Board.