Telecommunications firm, Etisalat Nigeria has announced the launch of its Flash Fiction Category in the ongoing Etisalat Prize for Literature, which it said was in pursuit of its core vision of encouraging and inspiring creativity.

According to the telecoms firm, the flash fiction category is designed to celebrate the short form of storytelling.

Three prizes will be awarded to the top three writers in this category which launched, Monday, September 2. The winning author gets a cash sum of £1,000, a Samsung Galaxy Note, with his or her published e-book promoted online and via digital media platforms. The category will also produce two runners up, with each receiving a cash sum of £500 and Samsung Galaxy Note for their literary efforts.

Announcing this in Lagos, Director of Brands & Communication at Etisalat Nigeria, Enitan Denloye explained that the flash fiction represents the short form of storytelling which is common in the world of 140 characters. “Short stories are where a lot of writers discover and perfect their talent. Coupled with the prevalence of digital media platforms and social media, we felt the need to include this category”, he said.

Denloye explained that the choice of using new media for entry, public evaluation and voting was influenced by consumers’ preference. “In today’s fast paced world, communication is right at our finger tips through smart devices – phones, tablets and the likes; and people prefer to consume information on-the-go in smaller bites. The Flash fiction category seeks to marry these two concepts, thus offering extra value to mobile device users across Africa whilst promoting upcoming writers.”

According to Denloye, interested writers are encouraged to submit their flash fiction entries of not more than 300 words on or before September 31, when entries are expected to close while the competition will be open to the general public for online voting from November 1, 2013.

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nigeriaThe Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), has concluded arrangements to host a major tourism industry stakeholders’ forum this Monday in Lagos.

This is even as the corporation promised that it would revamp the nation’s tourism destinations to meet world-class standard.

The theme of the forum to be declared open by the Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, is “Growing the Tourism Value Chain and Rebuilding the NTDC for Revenue Generation and Job Creation”.

Feelers from industry leaders indicate the event will be incisive with all industry leaders in attendance to discuss the new direction of the nation’s promising tourism economy and business potential.

Director-General of NTDC, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, is expected to present her blue print for rebuilding the NTDC, growing the tourism value chain and re-invent the tourism industry.

She would also use the occasion to present some immediate results already recorded in the area of rebuilding the NTDC.

The new NTDC management under Mbanefo has designed the stakeholders’ forum as an industry parliament for cross-breeding of ideas and a way of involving all stakeholders in government’s efforts aimed at transforming the tourism sector.

On assumption of office in June, Mbanefo had disclosed that her administration would adopt an open door system accommodating all stakeholders in policy making process and strategies for transformation of domestic tourism.

In her early meetings with the management and staff of the corporation she informed that her focus would lay emphasis on development of the local content as she believes that before the Nigerian tourism brand could be successfully sold to the international market, the domestic market potentials must be addressed.

This, according to her was to secure the buy-in and confidence of Nigerians in the sector and get Nigerians to be proud of their tourism heritage and industry.

The development of the domestic tourism, according to her, would also entail other core mandates which include job creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation.

The critical focus of the new NTDC management focuses on the development of the Tourism Value Chain across the country to realise the objectives for which the Corporation was set up, as well as meeting the core mandate of the supervising ministry of tourism.

Programmes of the new NTDC, according to sources, “shall be determined and executed in line with the mission of the Tourism Ministry which is engaging with stakeholders to reinvent and reposition Nigerian Tourism sector for the emergence of an integrated, vibrant, globally competitive, skilled, professional, private sector-driven industry through strategic international corporation, investment promotion and a strong regulatory and corporative inter-governmental environment that generates employment and alleviates poverty for sustainable national economic advantage”.

In this connection the new management was said to have indicated that NTDC, working in close partnership with other parastatals shall be implementing the Tourism Master Plan geared towards the promotion of Nigeria’s rich tourism potentials through identification, development and marketing of the diverse tourism opportunities.

It is believed that Mbanefo would be deploying her over 26 years experience in the leading national and multinational corporations to transform NTDC from its hitherto civil service outlook to public sector organization with private sector management orientation.

Courtesy: Malachy Uzendy

taleb rifai, the secretary general of unwto

taleb rifai, the secretary general of unwto

Taleb Rifai has been re-elected for a second term as the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General (2014-2017). This is just as Mexico and Burkina Faso were also named as hosts of the World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations for 2014 and 2015, respectively.

The announcement was made Wednesday at the 20th Session of the just-concluded General Assembly in Livingstone, Victoria Falls. The confirmation follows the decision by the 95th session of the UNWTO Executive Council which held earlier in Belgrade; Serbia, May 28, to recommend Rifai as a nominee for the Secretary-General post for the period 2014-2017.

In accordance with UNWTO statutes, his candidature was presented by Jordan, of which Rifai is a national.

Meanwhile, Mexico was selected to be the official host country for World Tourism Day (WTD) 2014 and Burkina Faso for WTD 2015. The respective themes will be “Tourism and Community Development” for 2014, and “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities,” for 2015.

The announcement was made at the 20th UNWTO General Assembly (Victoria Falls, 29 August).

Celebrated annually on 27 September, World Tourism Day is the biggest international event in tourism.  Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address the global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and highlight the tourism sector´s contribution to achieving these goals.

WTD 2013 will be held at the Maldives, centred on the theme “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future”, highlighting the tourism sector´s leadership role and contribution in facing the global water challenge.

taleb rifai, the secretary general of unwto

taleb rifai, the secretary general of unwto

THE continued growth of global tourist arrivals necessitates countries to adopt tourism as one of key pillars of socio-economic development, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary-General Mr Taleb Rifai has said.

Notably both Zimbabwe and Zambia, which co-hosted the recently-concluded 20th General Assembly, have placed tourism as one of their four pillars for economic growth. In Zimbabwe, tourism was identified and subsequently pronounced one of the four pillars of the country’s economic turnaround programmes in early 2009.

Rifai, who was speaking Monday, stated: “The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that travelling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economies. This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs.”

Latest figures from the UNWTO show that global tourist arrivals grew by 5 percent during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, reaching almost 500 million.

That growth was above the projection made at the beginning of the year (+3 percent to +4 percent) and is also exceeding the trend of the UNWTO long-term outlook Tourism Towards 2030 (+3.8 percent a year).

Destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of 2013, according to the Advance Edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released during the on-going UNWTO 20th General Assembly.

These figures represent an increase of 5 percent or an additional 25 million international tourists compared to the same period of 2012.

Growth was stronger in emerging economy destinations (+6 percent) than in advanced economies (+4 percent), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now.

In a still uneven global economic environment, results were positive in all regions and sub-regions, though the overall picture was mixed. Europe (+5 percent) performed surprisingly stronger than expected, driven by Central and Eastern Europe (+10 percent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 percent).

Asia and the Pacific (+6 percent) also exceeded expectations, boosted by South-East Asia (+12 percent) and South Asia (+7 percent).

On the other hand, results were weaker than anticipated in the Americas (+2 percent), as South America and the Caribbean lagged behind.

The first semester normally accounts for some 45 percent of the total arrivals count of the year (the Northern hemisphere high season months of July and August fall into the second semester).

According to Rifai, growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2013 but at a gradually slower pace.

UNWTO forecasts 2013 to end at 4 percent or slightly above, thus exceeding the initial estimate for the year.

unescounwtoIn support of the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation, the forthcoming World Tourism Day (WTD) 2013 is being held under the theme of Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future. And this year’s World Water Week is dedicated to Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships to reflect the topic chosen by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

2013 is being marked as the International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC).

Towards this end, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), being the lead agency to coordinate the celebrations of this International Year on behalf of UN-Water, has put a special effort in participating and contributing to this year’s World Water Week to be held from September 1 through to 6, in Stockholm, Sweden. World Tourism Day is celebrated September 27.

This year’s theme of World Tourism Day highlights tourism’s role in water access and shines a spotlight on the actions currently being taken by the sector in order to contribute to a more sustainable water future, as well as the challenges ahead.

Ms Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, is expected to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Week and will be engaging in the High Level Panel to discuss issues related to the overarching theme of “Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships”, such as how more effective cooperation can enable us to reach water wise decision and goals and thus contribute to sustainable development and peace.

UNESCO and its Water Family – the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), its network of experts, UNESCO Chairs and Centers, and the World Assessment Programme (WWAP) – are highly involved in many sessions and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of topics ranging from water security to climate change adaptation, education, trans-boundary waters management, capacity building and training, water governance, among others.

Bokova will interact with media and press to raise awareness on the importance of improved cooperation in the management of water resources and to promote a more sustainable and fair development of our societies. The visit of Bokova to Stockholm is also seen as opportunity to strengthen diplomatic and scientific ties between UNESCO and Sweden.

Bokova will highlight the messages of the International Year of Water Cooperation in different occasions and events, such the launching of the initiative “the Giant Puzzle of Water Cooperation” at UN-Water/UNESCO booth this Monday, September 2, 2013.

In a bid to facilitate tourism, leaders from the five East African Community (EAC) countries have agreed on a single tourist visa for the region following a one-day summit in the Kenyan coast city of Mombasa, Wednesday.

The agreement was reached by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and representatives from South Sudan and Burundi. They decided that their relevant ministers should finalize the modality of the use of national Identity Cards (ID) as travel documents before October 15.

Speaking at the second infrastructure summit in Kenya on Wednesday, President Kenyatta said efforts were being made by Customs and revenue officials in all the five countries to ensure that free movement of people within the EAC was achieved by January 2014.

“We have had tremendous progress with regard to the single tourist visa, and with regard to movement of people through use of ID cards, voters’ cards, students’ ID cards to allow free movement of our people within our countries,” he said.

The five countries have a wide range of tourism products that complement each other and therefore would enable the region to capture a huge market. Industry watchers say the common visa will ease travel arrangements for those intending to tour East African attractions.

At the moment, foreign tourists visiting EAC countries are required to stamp their passports in each EAC country visited.

Tourism is a vital sector for the entire East African trading bloc and has contributed immensely to the development of the region. Besides foreign exchange, the industry also creates thousands of employment opportunities for East Africans.

The ministers responsible for tourism also agreed that partner countries should fully address the negative image portrayed and subsequent negative travel advisories issued.

The summit was a follow up to the first one held in Uganda two months ago which resolved to strengthen the East African infrastructure network in order to enhance cross-border trade.

“I am gratified that Your Excellencies share a common vision to catalyze the momentum of regional growth through deliberate actions to address challenges,” President Kenyatta said.

The region also seeks to introduce a single currency under a monetary union.

The monetary union in the EAC with a combined population estimated at 135 million and with a collective gross domestic product (GDP) of 79.25 billion USD will have a great positive economic impact for the entire region.

The tourism sector has started harmonizing hospitality services policies and laws in the region in anticipation for a full co-operation and to sustainably utilize the resources as a region.

President Kenyatta said that although there was still a lot of work to be done, tremendous progress had been made towards achieving the goal of a single tourist visa for the region.

The EAC has been working on the common passport and visa since 2005, but the initiatives have been delayed due to security concerns, poor infrastructure, and disagreements over visa fee schedules and modality of revenue sharing.

President Kenyatta said the region would be more successful if the countries moved together. He said the EAC had potential to attract potential investors and open up a region with a market of more than 200 million people.

The next summit will be held in Kigali, Rwanda. during the third week of  October to review the progress in implementing the outcome of the summit.

President Kenyatta called on the regional leaders to remain focused on strengthening their coordination on common projects and programs that spur economic growth in the region.

He also presented a report on the best means of exploiting electricity resources within each partner state, including such alternatives as nuclear, geo-thermal and other forms of renewable energy.

During the Entebbe Summit, Kenya was tasked with spearheading the electricity generation and distribution as well as the development of two regional pipelines to pump refined oil between Eldoret-Kampala and Kigali and crude oil between Uganda-Kenya and South Sudan.

President Kenyatta urged the summit to consider the model that offers the best returns for the region, saves implementation time without compromising competitiveness or required standards.

Leaders in the region should address infrastructure links and other communication bottlenecks that impede enhanced movement of people, goods and services across the borders, he said, stressing the need for more efficient transport and communications infrastructure.

In a clear indication of tourism boom, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has said that the volume of international tourist traffic grew five per cent to 494 million in the first half of 2013 from the same period last year.

In data released at the just-concluded UNWTO General Assembly which Zambia and Zimbabwe co-hosted, the United Nations agency said the growth had exceeded expectations. “Destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of 2013,” it said.

“This represents an increase of five per cent or an additional 25 million international tourists compared with the same period of 2012.”

Arrivals had been largely expected to grow by three per cent but a stronger performance by emerging economy destinations pushed the jump higher.

The Asia-Pacific region registered the highest growth of 6.0 per cent followed by Europe at 5.0 per cent. Africa came third with a 4.0 per cent growth while the Americas recorded a 2.0 per cent increase in arrivals.

UNWTO Secretary General Taled Rifai said the growth in arrivals was critical and reflected the growing importance of the tourism sector.

“This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs,” he said.

The UN agency has forecast that overall growth will amount to 4.0 per cent at the end of the year, with the first half expected to account for 45 per cent of the total arrivals.

Rifai noted that the continued growth of global tourist arrivals necessitates countries to adopt tourism as one of key pillars of socio-economic development.

Notably both Zimbabwe and Zambia have placed tourism as one of their four pillars for economic growth. In Zimbabwe, tourism was identified and subsequently pronounced one of the four pillars of the country’s economic turnaround programmes in early 2009.

“The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that travelling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economies. This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs,” said Rifai.

Growth was stronger in emerging economy destinations (+6 percent) than in advanced economies (+4 percent), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now.

In a still uneven global economic environment, results were positive in all regions and sub-regions, though the overall picture was mixed. Europe (+5 percent) performed surprisingly stronger than expected, driven by Central and Eastern Europe (+10 percent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 percent).

Asia and the Pacific (+6 percent) also exceeded expectations, boosted by South-East Asia (+12 percent) and South Asia (+7 percent).

On the other hand, results were weaker than anticipated in the Americas (+2 percent), as South America and the Caribbean lagged behind.

The first semester normally accounts for some 45 percent of the total arrivals count of the year (the Northern hemisphere high season months of July and August fall into the second semester).

According to Rifai, growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2013 but at a gradually slower pace.

UNWTO forecasts 2013 to end at 4 percent or slightly above, thus exceeding the initial estimate for the year.

Initiatives are taken to set up an automatic system for exchanging information online so to assist and put in effect a single tourist visa system by the six member state as reported by a senior official at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

As opinionated by Abdullah Al Shobaili, Assistant Undersecretary at the GCC for Economic affairs, an agreement needs to be enforced on different technical elements, especially the presence of an automatic system that links the member countries between the AGCC countries.

In his words, “The issue had been discussed at the joint meeting between the Tourist Cooperation Committee in the AGCC and the GCC Tourist counterpart in the AGCC Chambers of commerce and industry, which was held in Fujairah last year,” They undertook extensive study before deciding on the agreement.

The two laws unified are combating trade fraud and statutes for the protection of consumers, are near to completion. Both of them aim at protecting the parties concerned in the whole manufacturing process- producers, consumers, distributors, importers, exporters and the economic environment in general.

This system as reported by the officials will enable the visitor from entering all GCC countries as they will have GCC visit Visa. Moreover, it is connected with the blacklists which contain names and fingerprints of persons banned from entry to each and every member country.

unwtoMeanwhile, international tourist arrivals grew by 5 per cent during the first half of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, reaching almost 500 million, according to data just released by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Growth was above the projection made at the beginning of the year (+3 per cent to +4 per cent) and is also exceeding the trend of the UNWTO long-term outlook Tourism Towards 2030 (+3.8 per cent a year).

Destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of 2013, according to the Advance Edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released on the occasion of the UNWTO 20th General Assembly.

This represents an increase of 5 per cent or an additional 25 million international tourists compared to the same period of 2012. Growth was stronger in emerging economy destinations (+6 per cent) than in advanced economies (+4 per cent), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now.

“The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that travelling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economies” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs.”

In a still uneven global economic environment, results were positive in all regions and sub-regions, though the overall picture was mixed. Europe (+5 per cent) performed surprisingly stronger than expected, driven by Central and Eastern Europe (+10 per cent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 per cent). Asia and the Pacific (+6 per cent) also exceeded expectations, boosted by South-East Asia (+12 per cent) and South Asia (+7 per cent). On the other hand, results were weaker than anticipated in the Americas (+2 per cent), as South America and the Caribbean lagged behind.

The first semester normally accounts for some 45 per cent of the total arrivals count of the year (the Northern hemisphere high season months of July and August fall into the second semester). Growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2013 but at a gradually slower pace. UNWTO forecasts 2013 to end at 4 per cent or slightly above, thus exceeding the initial estimate for the year.

Asia and the Pacific (+6 per cent) saw robust growth boosted by the increase in arrivals to South-East Asia (+12 per cent), a sub-region which is maintaining the extraordinary momentum of recent years, and South Asia (+7 per cent).

In Europe, international tourist arrivals were up 5 per cent despite the lingering economic difficulties. Growth was led by Central and Eastern Europe (+10 per cent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 per cent).

The Americas (+2 per cent) reported a rather weaker first half of 2013 compared to the strong growth of previous years. Central America (+4 per cent) performed above the region’s average, while arrival numbers were flat in the Caribbean and in South America.

In Africa (+4 per cent), the growth of recent years was sustained during the first half of 2013 due to the continued recovery of North Africa (+4 per cent) and the positive results of Sub-Saharan destinations (+4 per cent).

The Middle East rebounded after two years of negative growth with an estimated increase in international arrivals of 13 per cent. Yet, results should be taken with caution as growth is rather uneven across destinations and this assessment is based on still limited available data and reflects data up to June only.

Emerging economy outbound markets continue to drive growth both to emerging and advanced economy destinations.

China (+31 per cent) and Russia (+22 per cent) led the growth in expenditure on travel abroad among the top ten most important source markets in the world during the first half of 2013. Outside the top ten, Brazil is back with a 15 per cent increase after a more moderate 2012.

Expenditure from traditional markets, on the other hand, was more modest. Canada (+3 per cent) and France (+2 per cent) led the group, followed by the flat results of the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, and negative figures from Japan, Australia and Italy.

satSouth African Tourism (SAT) has announced plans by the Johannesburg City Tourism Association to host the very first Joburg City Festival scheduled for the week between Joy of Jazz and Arts Alive, meaning the inner city will come abuzz with activities for 3 weeks straight.

According to both the Johannesburg and SAT statements, the event represents an awesome opportunity to promote the city as a winter destination considering also that Johannesburg will expectedly offer 3 week – long events with the best climate to match.

The Joburg City Festival which was launched between May 17 and 19, this year, saw the Jo’burg City Tourism Association, along with their members and partners JDA; Gautrain; Joburg Tourism Company and Gauteng Tourism, invite and host 76 journalists from stretches as far and wide as Botswana to Cape Town, to give them a taste of what the official festival in August will display.

The planned festival will run over 9 days and the official programme will offer something for everyone! From art and cultural activations; tours; music; dance parties; street sports; fashion and lots more.

“We are excited about the very first festival as it is ideally scheduled to link the two big cultural festivals, Joy of Jazz and Arts Alive, giving tourists, city dwellers and suburbanites an opportunity to explore their city. We hope that in future these 3 weeks of festivities will put Johannesburg on the map as a destination for winter breaks. The city has been undergoing a massive rejuvenation and the Joburg City Tourism Association endeavours to promote this and the city’s heritage through the festival,” said Margeaux Swartz, JCTA Director and spokesperson.

So whether it be that you are attending events in the city during this time or merely catching a connecting flight through OR Tambo international airport, the city welcomes you to indulge in its offers during your time here.

The festival will take place in all precincts from Braamfontein to Newtown; Maboneng and the Mining District to name a few.