Tinsel, M-Net’s leading multi-million naira studio-based soap opera, has announced partnership with renowned Surulere, Lagos-based hair stylist of the programme’s cast, Ugo George Igbokwe to deliver a 10-day training workshop with members of the hair department of locally produced TV soap opera in the country.

The local production which is based in an exclusive studio in Lagos, boasts of a production team professional make-up artistes, hair dressers, costumers and others  all employed on a permanent basis. While the show continues to enjoy accolades and recognitions for its world-class production, the producers say it is important that the production continues to raise the bar on its production and not relent on its oars.

“Tinsel, though, locally based and produced, is a world class production; so we constantly strive to achieve world class standards and ensure we are up to date with international trends and practices. This partnership is part of a series of workshops directed towards availing the Tinsel crew of the expertise of renowned Nigerian entrepreneurs who excel at their craft,” a statement by the producers read.

Speaking at the first day of the workshop, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, of the Make Me Beauty parlour, Mr. Ugo George Igbokwe, popularly known as ‘Ugo Make Me’ described the soap opera as truly addictive and a premium production.

“The reason we chose to partner with Tinsel is because the soap opera has over the years proven itself to be of international standard, this is something consistent with us at Make Me.  We are very focused on excellent service delivery hence, we understand the value of a production such as Tinsel and we were quite pleased when they approached us with the idea of training their hair department”.

Igbokwe added that he was even more excited about this programme because it will also give him an opportunity not only to impart what he knows but also learn from the trainees as well. “There is certainly an abundance of skill with the Tinsel crew for them to be on such a big production, so yes, I am very happy about this project, but all together, this is us doing our part in ensuring that the standards are not only met but that Tinsel and Make Me become truly number one in Africa”.

Tinsel has been in production since August 2008. Produced by M-Net, content provider on the pan-African platform, DStv, launched this multi-camera, multi-million naira studio-based soap opera production.

Since then, Tinsel has exceeded expectations of not just the viewers but also the producers as in the course of four years, the programme has gone from airing once a week to three times a week and more recently, five times a week.

James Patterson and Stephen King might still top Forbes’ yearly round-up of the world’s richest authors, but the magazine is predicting its list will look a little more female-friendly next year.

Forbes, which calculates its annual compilation by using official figures and talking to book industry experts, found that Patterson earned $94m last year – a period which saw him publish 14 new titles and make more than double the amount of the second-placed King. Nine of the top 15 slots on the list were taken by male authors, including King (who earned $39m thanks to the release of his doorstopper novel about the assassination of JFK, 11/22/63), legal thriller writer John Grisham ($26m), Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney ($25m) and newcomer George RR Martin, who made $15m following the adaptation for television of his Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series.

The highest-ranking female writer on the list was Janet Evanovich, in third with earnings of $33m, but Forbes believes next year will present a very different picture. Not only will Suzanne Collins benefit from the full portion of the proceeds from the first Hunger Games film, and JK Rowling from the release of her first adult novel The Casual Vacancy this September, but EL James’ record-breaking earnings from the erotic Fifty Shades trilogy, which sold 20 million copies in four months, will assure her “a place near the top of next year’s top authors list”, according to Forbes.

“At the height of Fifty Shades mania, the erotic novels were estimated to be generating as much as $1.3 million per week for their author, EL James. And that’s not counting the $5 million she received from Universal Pictures and Focus Films for the theatrical rights,” said the magazine, suggesting that perhaps Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, who made $14m last year, might deserve a cut as “James’s books originated as works of Twilight fan fiction”.

The complete list of world’s highest-paid authors, according to Forbes includes: James Patterson: $94 million, Stephen King: $39 million, Janet Evanovich: $33 million, John Grisham: $26 million, Jeff Kinney, $25 million, Bill O’Reilly: $24 million, Nora Roberts: $23 million, and Danielle Steel: $23 million.

Others are: Suzanne Collins: $20 million, Dean Koontz: $19 million, JK Rowling: $17 million, George RR Martin: $15 million, Stephenie Meyer: $14 million, Ken Follett: $14 million and Rick Riordan: $13 million, in that order.

Courtesy: Guardian.uk

From halal spas to free prayer rooms at airport terminals, the global tourism industry is gearing up for a projected boom in Muslim travel over the next decade, experts say.

This is just as some multi-national hotel brands in Nigeria having recognised this veritable market and are set to exploit it by positioning products they believe will help to corner it and ultimately with a view to growing their revenue base in the country’s highly competitive hospitality industry.

While hotels giants of the West African coast, the Golden Tulip, Festac, Lagos unveils its ‘Live the Ramadan Spirit; campaign to lure Muslims, the global hotel chain Starwood Hotel and Resorts’ brand in Nigeria, the Sheraton Hotels Abuja and Lagos have opted for the SPG Ramadan for the same purpose.

Located in the Festac area of Lagos and officially opened for business barely two years ago, the Golden Tulip, Lagos, assures its Muslim guests ‘the authentic Ramadan experience for 30 consecutive days’ in what it believes is the first time any hospitality establishment will embark on such a promotion in Lagos.

The hotel while offering daily Ramadan buffet, with introduction of different flavours from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, and a selection of famous Ramadan sweets and beverages, also offers a Nigerian corner complete with barbeque dishes.

“We want you to tune with variety of Arabic rhythms, live Nigerian entertainment and the famous Ramadan Tanoura show, brought to you all the way from Egypt everyday at the vicinity of the pool area. We also want you to tantalize your senses and enjoy a fusion of various cultures at the comfort of our excellent services and unique atmosphere. We will also cater for group itfar events and will offer a free itfar for every 10 itfar bookings,” said the Deputy General Manager of Golden Tulip, Festac, Lagos, Mr. Shousha Mohsen.

For the Starwood Hotels and Resorts brands in Nigeria, the Sheraton Hotels in Lagos and Abuja will accord special treatments to Muslims in the month of Ramadan as they prepare to roll out the carpet to receive them through their Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) programme.

The Nigerian hotel brands of Starwood will along with 37 others in countries of the Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean through the SPG programme celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan offering SPG members a 20 per cent discount on Iftars.

Iftar guests at participating hotels will also have the opportunity to sign up for SPG on the spot, allowing them to benefit immediately from the discount.

Celebrating the heritage of selflessness during the Holy Month, SPG is also launching its Ramadan Giving contest, in which members will have the opportunity to nominate a friend or family member to share a VIP package to the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

The Formula One package will include full-day VIP passes, exclusive Formula One hospitality and access to the pit lane during the pit lane walk. The winners will also have an exclusive meet-and-greet with one of the Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers along with merchandise from the team. To top it off, the winners will be hosted at the luxurious The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, which will open later this year.

“The Holy Month of Ramadan is a great opportunity for us to offer our SPG members more meaningful benefits and give them the chance to enjoy quality time with their family and friends,” said Steven Taylor, Vice President Marketing, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, adding further: “We are excited about adding the Formula One VIP experience to our Ramadan campaign this year. This region has a large number of motoring enthusiasts, many of which are valued SPG members who would appreciate the chance to share this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a family member or friend.”

The study on the growing on number and affluence of Muslim tourists means Muslims, especially from the oil-rich Middle East, are travelling like never before, and it is a trend that looks set to gather pace.

According to the study, spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach $US192 billion a year by 2020, up from $US126 billion in 2011, according to a study by two companies specialising in the market.

The study was conducted in 47 countries by Singapore-based halal travel specialist Crescentrating, along with DinarStandard, a US-based firm that tracks the Muslim lifestyle market.

Crescentrating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen said Muslim-majority states such as Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia were already favourite destinations, but non-Islamic countries are now “taking a serious look” at Muslim holidaymakers.

Malaysia, the number-one destination according to the findings, attracts Muslim visitors even during the ongoing fasting month of Ramadan.

Mohammed Ali Alali, 23, a petroleum engineering student from Dammam, Saudi Arabia, went there on honeymoon with his bride, a 20-year-old medicine student.

“It’s not that far from Saudi Arabia and it’s less expensive to travel here rather than Europe. It’s also an Islamic country so that helps in many ways, like to find a mosque and Arabic food,” he said after breaking fast at an Arabic restaurant in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

The availability of halal food tops the list of Muslim travellers’ requirements, according to the survey.

Destinations such as Thailand and Australia, especially the Gold Coast, are already taking into account these travellers’ needs in their services and facilities, Fazal said.

That includes prayer rooms at airports and hotels, halal restaurants and even spas adapted to religious requirements.

“Why not try Gold Coast for a cooler Ramadan this year?” says the tourism website of Australia’s Queensland state. With a long history of welcoming Middle Eastern visitors and a large resident community, facilities for Muslims in Gold Coast, Australia keep getting better every year.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit had in a March report reported that meeting the needs of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims is fuelling business opportunities in numerous sectors.

“From food and Islamic finance, the industry is spreading its wings into pharmaceuticals, fashion and tourism, among many other areas,” it said, noting more than half of the world’s Muslim population is aged 24 or younger, many of them well-educated.

Thailand is hungrily eyeing the Muslim travel boom. Its tourism authority, which has an office in Dubai, is promoting halal spas for Muslim tourists, who require strict privacy for male and female clients.

It also organised a month-long festival of Thai cuisine in the United Arab Emirates from June 8 to July 7.

Crescentrating’s study ranked Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport the most Islam-friendly airport in a non-Muslim country.

And it found that tourists from the Gulf; Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are the sector’s biggest spenders.

Gulf countries accounted for 37 per cent of Muslim tourist spending in 2011 even though they represent a mere three percent of the global Muslim population.

West African airlines have been challenged to offer “concrete proposals” for holistically addressing challenges confronting the sector to make them more effective partners in promoting the regional integration agenda.

“Air transport is one of the vital sectors of the regional economy whose contribution to the development of infrastructure will help facilitate the region’s integration and competitiveness,” the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told a delegation of the Steering Committee of chief executives of airlines in the region on Monday, July 30.

The delegation was at the Commission to solicit support for initiatives by the airlines to cooperate in interline agreements, harmonisation of flights schedules and airport slots, pooling of resources and code sharing in line with the directive of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at their 22nd June 2009 summit in Abuja. The initiatives are in response to the challenges of huge tax burdens applicable in Member States, stifling regulatory environment and restrictions on landing rights confronting the airlines.

The president assured the airlines of the Commission’s willingness to work with them in addressing the specific challenges confronting the sector, which has a huge potential in facilitating the realisation of the regional Protocol on free movement of community citizens in the spirit of the ECOWAS vision 2020. He urged the airlines to work with the relevant structures in the Commission to ensure the attainment of the objectives of the community for the benefit of the citizens.

Earlier, Mr Abderahmane Berthe, chair of the Steering Committee highlighted the important role of air transport to regional integration in facilitating the movement of community citizens through the reduction of fares and ensuring the efficiency of the sector. Mr. Berthe, who is the Director-General of Air Mali, said the identified problems have allowed foreign airlines to dominate the sector and reduced the capacity of regional airlines to compete not only within the region but globally.

He briefed the president on the role of the Steering Committee as a mechanism for articulating the interests and challenges of the sector with a view to leveraging the strengths of its members to improve the efficiency of the sector and resources in the region for the benefit of community citizens. The chairman was accompanied by the Director-General of Asky, Mr. Burera Awel, the Deputy Director-General of Aero contractors, Mr. Rogers Cookey, and Mr. Kwaku Apeadu of FLY540.

Newly- renovated Ikeja Central Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, has commenced its entertainment package of night clubbing, outdoor dining and wining, and Bar-b-Que grills on Fridays as it celebrates with in-house guests the end of the working week with its specially packaged Thank God Its Friday (TGIF) showcase.

The Thank God it’s Friday (TGIF) is an early evening gig put together for the enjoyment of the in-house guests and anyone who wants to unwind, according to management of the high-profile hotel.

“Inside the bar and lounge a Dee jay is spinning the wheels of steel churning out the latest vibes to a cultured and upwardly mobile crowd in the ambiance of the hotels twenty first century bar and lounge. At the bar there are choice wines, spirits, beer and cocktails,” said Mr. Emanuel Onafowokan, Managing Director of the hotel.

Continuing, Onafowokan urged patrons to take advantage of the 50 per cent discount on room rates which is also on offer every Friday specifically, adding that the hotel is redirecting its vision to using entertainment to soothe the nerves of guests and tourists alike.

The 36-room luxury hotel in Ikeja is owned and managed as a member of the Yodesons Group founded by business mogul Chief SK Onafowokan, The Asiwaju of Remo, Ogun State.

Two years after it took over an existing network, Airtel Nigeria has grown its subscriber base by 31 per cent representing an additional five and half million subscribers to hit 20 million subscribers.

Airtel Nigeria Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Mr. Rajan Swaroop disclosed the growth in the company’s numbers and improvement in other indices at a Media Roundtable held Wednesday at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja,

According to Swaroop, the growth in subscriber numbers at Airtel was one of several indicators of growing customer acceptance and love of the brand that seeks as its vision to be the most loved brand in all its markets., just as he revealed that traffic on the Airtel network grew by 124 per cent since the 2010 acquisition by the Bharti Airtel Group.

Airtel Nigeria is the lodestar in the 16-country African operations of Bharti Airtel with head office in Nairobi, Kenya. The growth has also come on the back of an investment of $1.2billion (approximately N192billion) within the period, innovations in marketing as well as in the network that have positively influenced the Nigerian telecommunications landscape.

The Airtel Nigeria chief further disclosed that his company has launched nearly 3, 000 3.75G sites with presence in 150 towns and cities across Nigeria, adding that the Airtel 3G network is now the largest such network in all of Africa.

“The company connects rural communities with broadband services.  Airtel also offers the best Internet experience in Nigeria,” the CEO stressed.

Airtel is investing in building additional 2000 kilometres to its existing 5000 kilometre fibre transmission network to ensure even deeper market penetration and capacity to handle its rapid subscriber growth. The Airtel Nigeria Chief Executive asserted that the existing network has capacity to take additional 10 million subscribers even as the company increases its capacity rapidly.

“We can double our existing customer base without congestion on the network,” Swaroop added.

He said this was possible because of investments on the network including a network data centre launched in Lagos in April as well as further investments to ensure additional capacity at base stations.

Diamond Bank has formally redeemed its pledge of special certificates and cash awards to winners of the children’s Special Art Exhibition which it sponsored as part of programmes highlighting the recently concluded 2012 edition of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival (LBHF).

The competition which was organised with the support of Lagos State Government had in the past featured adult art competitions, however, for this year, opted to focus on young creativity through the bank’s sponsorship with a sub theme, The Vision of the Child.

The presentation of awards to the best six students at the Diamond Bank’s Lekki, Lagos premises, penultimate Wednesday, had in attendance executives of the bank including Managing Director, Mr. Alex Otti, Executive Director, Corporate Banking and Regional Businesses (Lagos/West), Mr. Uzoma Dozie, Mr. Victor Ezenwoko, Executive Director, Regional Businesses (South), the Festival Consultant and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, as well as other school children who participated in the art competition.

Presenting the cash prizes to the tune of N450, 000 to the six winners, Otti said the bank continuously aligns itself with the future, hence its support for the children’s art competition: “For us at Diamond Bank, we have no choice but to support the future and the children out here today represent that future which is why we are supporting the project. The future is bright and will continue to support the future. This is our belief,” said Otti.

Responding, Prof. Soyinka used the occasion of the presentation, to hand over theme of next year’s competition contained in sealed envelope to the Diamond Bank MD for, as he put it, ‘safe keeping.’

It would be recalled that both the art competition and the festival proper were declared open by state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who had thanked the bank for its noble gesture in sponsoring the creative genius of children in particular.

The 5th edition of the Lagos Black Heritage festival (LBHF) had as theme, The Black in the Mediterranean Blue, focusing on the linkages and historical contributions of Blacks to the Mediterranean region as reflected in the dance, plays, street theatre, music and other cultural aspects.

Against a background of an exhibition by Italian, Nigerian and Afro-Italian painters, the visual art programme took the form of children from age ranging from nine to twelve telling through paintings all done in Freedom Park, their grasp of the culture they live in, their observations of developments in their immediate environment and their dreams and fantasies about Lagos.

A selective process had begun weeks before the festival by Art Scouts who visited more than 70 public and private Primary and Secondary Schools in the 57 Local Councils and Development Areas in the state and examined the children’s works. 42 public and private schools across the state qualified for the final competition.

The selection panel comprising Chief (Mrs) Nike Okundaye, Hon Tola Wewe and Mrs. Peju Ogunmola with the active support of the art teachers narrowed down the selection to 30 children from 18 different schools through two screenings.

The finalists were invited to Freedom Park, Lagos, March 17, provided with canvasses, brushes, easels and paints then set to work. The results were framed and mounted and put on exhibition April 2, on the Final day of the Festival colloquium. All the children received Award Certificates and LBHF Customised Laptops.

During the penultimate Wednesday visit to the bank’s offices in Lekki, Lagos, the best six formally received their additional cash awards as announced by the Panel of Selectors and Judges during the award dinner sponsored by Diamond Bank on April 8.

They include: Akinola Ibukunoluwa of the Methodist Girls, Yaba, Lagos, 1st– N120,000; Doyinsola Akinwande of the Apostolic Faith, Anthony, Lagos, 2nd-N100,000; Lotanna Nnoli of the Chrisland Schools, Victoria Garden City, Lagos 3rd-N80,000; Babatunde Balogun of the Greenfield School, Lekki 4th-N50,000; Sulaiman Sheriff of the Unjeland School, Ikotun 5th-N50,000;  and finally Sokoya Kayinsola of the Apostolic Faith, Anthony 6-N50,000.

Of special notice was young Divine Grace, a five-year-old girl who insisted on taking part in the competition and was honoured by the sponsors, Diamond Bank. She was also given an honorary certificate for her tenacity and her, “can do” spirit.

The success of the event was summed up by the Festival Secretary, Foluke Michael, who declared that the precociousness of the children who interpreted the art competition’s theme in very mature adult depictions must not be taken for granted.

“We must also encourage them, provide the right environment for them to grow, so that, we can get the best from them… Parents should encourage their children to go beyond studying mathematics and physics, but develop interest in other subjects and courses and should not ignore any talent discovered in their children.”

This statement in effect, sums up the commendable results of the spirit and support of the Diamond Bank Corporate Sonically Responsibility in its sponsorship of the Vision of the Child.

Some of the world’s most celebrated jazz musicians, including Grammy Award winning performers Clarence Carter and Eddie Palmieri; Jamaican legend Monty Alexander and France’s celebrated Manu Katche, have joined the line-up of artists already announced for this year’s Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

Also coming to the jazztravaganza, which takes place in Newtown, Johannesburg, from August 23 to 25, are the United States’ Lizz Wright; Ken Philmore from Trinidad and Tobago who is one of the top steel-drum soloists in the world and France’s innovative Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ).

Both Palmieri and Katche join an already impressive opening night line-up which includes Sax Summit and the unforgettable Tribute to Miles Davis.

Sax Summit has five of the world’s top female saxophonists playing the music of Kippie Moeketsi. They are American rising star Grace Kelly, Holland’s acclaimed Tineke Postma, British tenor Rosemary Quaye as well as Shannon Mowday and Nthabiseng Mokoena.

Eddie Palmieri is one of the foremost Latin jazz pianists of the 21st century, blessed with a technique that fuses jazz influences from the styles of Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner into a Latin context. He is the recipient of nine Grammy Awards.

In a career that spans more than four decades, Jamaican piano legend Monty Alexander has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe: Frank Sinatra, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare to name just a few. Alexander was awarded the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government for outstanding services to Jamaica in his capacity as worldwide music ambassador.

Clarence Carter won legends of fans around the world with songs such as Patches, Slip Away and Too Weak to Fight. He found a new audience with songs such as Strokin’ and Dr CC in the 1990s. Strokin’ was also used in the Eddie Murphy film The Nutty Professor. Carter’s strong soul sound also found an audience within the hip-hop community where he is known as Dr CC for his soulful guitar work intertwined with his sexy lyrics.

Lizz Wright’s music is a mixture of jazz, folk, gospel, and R&B. The Georgia-based singer-songwriter is already a celebrated contributor to the jazz world, having recorded four albums.

Ken “Professor” Philmore has performed and recorded with a number of international artists such as Tito Puente, Ella Fitzgerald, Phyllis Hyman, Nancy Wilson, Tina Turner, Andy Narrell, Ralph Mc Donald, George Howard, Lionel Hampton and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Apart from his work in Trinidad, he currently arranges music for steel bands both in US and the UK and lectures at universities worldwide.

Orchestre National de Jazz (under the current leadership of artistic director Daniel Yvinec) has charted a unique musical path over the last quarter of a century, with projects tributes to Billie Holiday and art rock pioneer Robert Wyatt. Their latest offering is the acclaimed Shut Up and Dance.

The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz will take place on eight stages in Newtown including the Dinaledi Stage, the Conga, Mbira, Bassline and The Market Theatre. Other venues include free concerts at Sophiatown, Shikisha and Nikki’s Oasis.

Artists already announced for the festival include Grammy-Award winner Kurt Elling who has been hailed as the jazz male vocalist of his generation; trombone master Wycliffe Gordon; Grammy-winning guitarist Earl Klugh as well as an appearance by the world famous Duke Ellington Orchestra. Luminaries from the African continent include Caiphus Semenya, Bakithi Kumalo, Manu Dibango from Cameroon and Mory Kante from Guinea.

The 2012 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is produced by T-Musicman and brought to you by Standard Bank in association with the Department of Arts & Culture with co-sponsors The Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation; South African Tourism; Gauteng Tourism; the National Arts Council and the City of Jo’burg

The recently held Mandela day celebration in Lagos was a well attended event to honour the living legend Nelson Mandela fondly called Madiba.

The event organized by the South African High Commission in Lagos, in partnership with Silverbird was held at the Galleria in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Amongst the dignitaries present at the event were Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, Consul General South Africa High Commission Ambassador Monaisa, Seasoned broadcaster Soni Irabor and Chairman, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Foluso Philips, to mention a few.

Part of the activities of the day was the revelation of German-based Nigerian pianist Dapo Dina, who left attendees spellbound as he and his band which included ace Saxophonist Segun Atoyebi and Bassist Joshua Fashina performed to the delight of the crowd.

Dina showed dexterity on his Clarinova piano which he specially brought to the event because of what he called its ‘weighted’ keys and in between the various activities on the programme of events for the day he was on hand to deliver both traditional South African tunes from Miriam Makeba, Abdullahi Ibrahim and also several Nigerian traditional standards.

His mastery on the piano left Professor Wole Soyinka thrilled as other notable guests also commended on his artistry as a musician.

Dina has over the last 5 years featured in many festivals abroad with his favourite performing spots being the European and South African music scene. Here in Nigeria, he is expected to feature prominently in the forthcoming ‘The Tale Of Two African Cities’ Fusion showcase between Nigeria and South Africa and The MUSON Jazz festival 2012 amongst other events.

The musician who draws his musical influences from musicians like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcalba is a set to release his latest work ‘wealth of Knowledge’ into the African Market under the auspices of Inspiro productions.

Africa Travel Association (ATA) Monday announced Cameroon as the next host of its 38th Annual ATA World Congress, the association’s largest international tourism industry meeting, scheduled for 2013.

The congress expects to bring together hundreds of tourism leaders and professionals from government, business and non-profit sectors to promote tourism development to and across Africa from around the world.

ATA is a global trade association promoting travel and tourism to Africa and strengthening intra-Africa partnerships established in 1975, to serve both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry

“At our 37th Congress in Zimbabwe in May 2012, we brought together more than 500 industry professionals to explore how tourism, with growth rates in emerging markets outperforming more established destinations, is one of the most promising industries on the African continent for development,” said ATA Executive Director Edward Bergman.

Continuing, Bergman said: “Building on this incredible momentum, we are excited to partner with our longtime member Cameroon to bring tourism professionals looking to do business in Africa to the country, where delegates will have the opportunity to build new connections, learn about the latest industry trends, and explore the country’s newest products.”

ATA and Cameroon trace their roots back to 2004 and 1987, when Cameroon hosted ATA’s hallmark event in the country’s largest city Douala. In 2001, ATA held its Eco-Tourism Symposium in the capital Yaounde.

The 2013 event will be hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure under the auspices of Honourable Minister Bello Bouba Maigari, who expressed his vision to bring ATA back to Cameroon at ATA’s last U.S.-Africa Tourism Seminar in March in Washington DC. The Minister recently remarked, “You want to visit Africa and experience its vast diversity and legendary hospitality in one stop? Come to Cameroon: Africa in Miniature.”

ATA’s annual event in Africa offers a unique networking, learning and agenda-shaping platform for the most diverse group of buyers and sellers of Destination Africa of any travel industry event on the continent.

Participants include African tourism ministers, industry professionals representing tourism boards, travel agencies and tour operators, conference and incentive operators, ground operators, airlines, and hotels, as well as the travel trade media.

Participation from the corporate, non profit and academic sectors are also expected to attend along with leaders of the African Diaspora.

The ATA congress offers a line-up of educational and professional development seminars for travel professionals. Topics include social media, branding and marketing, attracting media coverage, product development, growth markets, cultural tourism, culinary tourism, airline access, and the latest travel trends in Africa. A wide range of networking events, including receptions and gala dinners will also be held.

Delegates will have the opportunity to explore Destination Cameroon’s products, including an abundance of natural and cultural resources with strong cultural heritage and eco-tourism products ripe for growth, during Host Country tours and learn about the newest hotels, offerings and incentives. Pre and post congress trips are also available.

ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa. ATA’s annual events bring together industry leaders to shape Africa’s tourism agenda.