Ebere Chibuzor writes on various ways the recently held third edition of Accra Weizo has brought regional integration in most African countries.
The 2017 edition tagged “Seamless Travel In West Africa” was well organized as guests who came went back home with lots of stories to tell. It started with the arrival of guests from different parts of the world till about 10 am that eventful morning when Ire the “Stage Devil” stormed the stage.
As the event progressed, the gathering created a platform for stakeholders in tourism sector and tour practitioners within Africa continent to establish regional integration via tourism. Although this has been a cherished but elusive goal; despite that stakeholders within the industry, this time considered approaching the goals from a different perspective.
During the event it was expressly stipulated that experts in the tourism industry have a role to play in making integration a reality for the continent which include the creation of a free trade zone, offer visa free or visa on arrival to all Africans amongst other.
The chairman of the event, former tourism minister Nene Nagai in his keynote speech, commended the efforts recalling that “we used to have the African Travel Association (ATA) based in America. For most of our events we have to travel to America. When we get to their office, all the correspondents are from America. I got worried and began to write to fellow Africans to stimulate it in Africa.”
The royal father who pointed out that Africa needed to encourage one another to develop Africa, charged stakeholders and practitioners in the travel and tourism industry in Ghana to seek progressive knowledge towards moving the industry forward by attending travel fairs.
He however, expressed disappointment to the low turnout of Ghana tourism stakeholders and tour practitioners, saying that their participation was weak.
Speaking at the event, organizer of Accra Weizo, Mr. Ikechi Ukoh, stated, “ECOWAS started in 1973 with similar vision. And 40 years after, not much have been achieved in that regard.
Ikechi pointed out that that East Africa has launched a single passport that enables people from that region to travel round the region. Ghana has instituted visa on arrival. Benin has just joined. The problem with the development and growth of tourism in the sub region is the governments and the policy makers.
In his welcoming remarks the organizer thanked the former Hon. Minister for honoring the event and his desire to familiarize himself with the people.
Contributing, the chairman of Calabar Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah said, Calabar Carnival was basically meant to fight and eliminate hunger in Cross River State and not just only for entertainment.
Onah equally commended efforts of the organizer of Accra Weizo, Mr. Ikechi Ukoh for ensuring that international world are fully involved in CALABAR Carnival.
According to him, Cross River State Gov. Bendict Ayade, has just added a lottery bill into Calabar Carnival, Which he said would improve the standard of people living in the state.
Onah who said Calabar acronym was “Come And Live And Be At Rest” seized the platform to market his Calabar Carnival to the guests at the event.
He also recalled that delegates were sent to Ghana to mirror their destination when they newly started, which to him Calabar festival is the first to integrate Nigeria.
Mrs. Nancy Sam Quartey, in her opening remarks took out time to appreciate all the various persons and organizations which partnered with the organizers to make this year’s event a very successful one. She specially thanked the various ambassadors and high commissioners representing foremost countries which have been at the forefront of driving sustained travel and tourism business
Meanwhile, on the last day, Founder and Managing Director, E-Tourism Frontiers Mr. Damian Cook shed light on a topic “Digital Tourism Marketing Seminar,” a session that lasted for hours drew over 50 enthusiastic participants from travel and tour, Airlines, Media among others.
The event was anchored by Mrs. Ebele Eze-Enemchukwu fondly called “Mrs. Tourism”. The event also witnessed an uncontrollable ecstasy when the revelers of Calabar Carnival stormed the stage with glittery, feathery costume while Ghana cultural troupe performed briefly immediately after the Calabar Carnival dancers.
From all indication, the third edition of Accra Weizo witnessed the presence of sizeable contingent of dignitaries including High Commissioners and Ambassadors, in the sub region.
Accra Weizo partners include: Asky Airlines, Arik Air, Medview Airlines among others, and the event was organized by the founder of ATQ News, Mr. Ikechi Uko.
Other highlight at event include: recognition of major tourism players for the measures being put in place, ensuring thriving environment in travel and tourism sector across the West African sub region.