The 2017 London World Travel Market which was a big boost to the economy of some European continents, however, offered a tale of low tide for the majority of the countries in the African Section.
As if the organiser of the London WTM had the premonition of what could become of the African countries, the African section which is usually on the right wing and middle section of the wing was relocated to the last portion of the left wing of the ExCel Exhibition Centre.
Most countries from Africa which participated and had stands also maintained skeletal staff with few exhibitors.
South–Africa which used to occupy large square metres of the floor had its stands reduced significantly with dearth of exhibitors from the Nine Provinces.
Tolene Van Der Merwe revealed that, it became necessary for South Africa to reduce its stands and review its spending on London WTM.
According to her “I looked at the spending at WTM versus what we would get back from it, I decided that I would reduce the stand and use that budget to create road shows.” She added that the budget could also be spent on marketing South Africa in the UK.”
She revealed that it would be unwise for her country to be wasting money on WTM where little is being gained and divert the money on other purposes like road shows which will sell South–Africa Tourism to the buyers directly.
Van der Merwe said SA Tourism hosted its first roadshow in the UK in March this year after a few years of not having a roadshow. Following a request from stakeholders, it would also run a roadshow after WTM London, from yesterday November 14 through 18. The roadshow will visit Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and London, where each event will be attended by about 30 agents.
She pointed out that SA Tourism would benefit from the two way traffic by mopping up on whatever is gained at WTM and also spreading the SA Tourism gospel to the cities after the event.
Ghana maintained a stand which was bereft of the previous vitality and vibrancy of activities identical of the famous Gold Coast stand. However, it jostled the atmosphere on the last day which was Ghana’s Day where a Ghana cultural group dazzled all with some magical show.
Kenya on its own maintained a solemn market atmosphere where nothing spectacular happened except some strings of visitors visiting the hotels and wildlife section.
Tanzania maintained a stand which was very cold with few things to exhibit and very few officials at hand.
Sao Tome and Principe though had a small stand, but it made big impact by attracting a modicum of buyers and trade inquisitors.
Telling the world that Sao Tome and Principe has come onboard of world tourism platform, Dr Mirian Daio, Director General , Sao Tome Tourism and Hotels said that ‘Sao Tome and Principe is ready to host the world and receive into her bosom tourists who are interested in experiencing the warmth breath of our country”.
Mirian and her team were busy attending to buyers who expressed desire to visit the country.
“Our doors are opened. Our people are hospitable. Our country is suited best for agric-cultural and continental tourism.”
Although Nigeria as a country maintained no stand, but its absence was felt at the African section especially as many Nigerians both from the private and public sectors were on ground.
The Director–General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr Folorunso Folarin Coker, was seeing holding meetings with organisers of WTM London and consulting with a lot of organisations.
Mr Folarin Coker who interacted with some Nigerians seemed to be on ground for a better and well coordinated participation in next year’s event.
Other Nigerians who made appearance The President, Federation of Tourism association, FTAN, Mallam Rabo and Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Plateau State Commissioner for Tourism, Culture and Hospitality, Peter Mwankon and John Likita Best, Senior Special Adviser to Governor on Tourism, Jide Sarayi , Chairman, Centre Point Travels, Ibadan, Akapo Emmanuel, President Ten Strings Musical School, Lagos among others
Mr Ken Oloye, Belgium-based Nigerian tourism promoter said “We are not happy that Nigeria did not have a stand here today. On the other point, going by what is happening here; I think it is a blessing in disguise for Nigeria not having a stand. For it could have been disastrous if we had a stand that is non functional as some of the African stands here. I want Nigeria to make sure that come 2018; Nigeria’s Stand should not only be present here, but should be well funded, well organised, well structured and the best. For what is worth doing at all is worth doing well”.
Mr Akapo in his remark said “I am happy that Mr Folarin Coker is here. I have seen him making notes and observing how the market is doing. I am sure he is understudying the market. For, as a new person in the saddle, one expect him to observe, identify the market niche, understand how the market is being ran, make contact for the future and network for our great participation next year. I agree that our non participation this year is a blessing in disguise and a preparatory providence for a bigger re–entry in 2018”.
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