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Tourism-Travel-Leisure News Undiluted

Maiden Edition

Vol.1 Issue 1 August 2011

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Nigerian Airlines: Why They Cannot Compete By Harry Ahiante

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Edem Duke

Segun Runsewe

Samuel Alabi

Can We Trust These Men With Nigeria’s Tourism Sector? By Our Reporter

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o suggest that these are the most interesting times for the tourism industry in Nigeria may not be too far off the mark. Indeed, that claim finds currency in the fact that for the first time in the history of the industry, we have an apostle, an attorney and a self-styled special one driving the affairs of the industry, albeit in different capacities. With their emergence, the landscape of the tourism industry has been reshaped and redefined. From upping the tourism ante in Calabar, High Chief Edem Duke was drafted by President Goodluck Jonathan to be new minister of tourism, culture and national

orientation. To help him vivify the industry and give bite to some of the enduring but shelved policies is, Otunba Segun Runsewe or the “special one,” as he is referred to in some quarters, who sits pretty at the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], Nigeria’s apex tourism agency; and Samuel Alabi, the man that has been chosen by the industry to represent and carry their cross as president of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN]. Their appointment has been described as a win-win for the industry. The appointment of Edem Duke, for example, has attracted wide applause from players in the tourism and culture industry who have severally clamoured for a technocrat at the helms of affairs of the industry. ‘This is the first time that a professional

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is leading the ministry’, says Andy Enahire, a Benin-based tourism practitioner. He urged the minister to ensure that no stone is left unturned in harnessing the full potential of the sector already well known to him before his appointment. Also speaking in the same vein, Nnaemeka Agbasi, chief executive of NAC Hospitality tasked the new minister “to lead by example, especially where former ministers have been accused of serious compromise in the past.” Enahire and Agbasi’s avowal of the new appointment are in line with the tremendous role Edem Duke played in fast-tracking the development of tourism in his home state of Cross River. On assumption of duties, the new minister Continues on page 8

hat the Nigeria aviation industry is going through hard times is stating the obvious .While airline businesses in other countries are making frantic efforts to succeed with mergers and bailouts given by their various governments, Nigerian airlines are not showing any sign of recovery or moving from the level they are at the moment. Presently, there are eight domestic airlines in the country. They include Aero, Air Nigeria, Arik Air, Associated, Chanchangi, Dana, IRS and Overland Airways. None of these airlines can boldly say today that it is not going through difficult times with the barrage of challenges that are facing the industry. These challenges to a very large extent have led to the death of a large number of them. Some of the airlines that have disappeared from the Nigerian airspace include: Afrijet Airlines, Allied Air , Aviation Development Company [ADC], Bellview Airlines, Capital Airlines , Dornier Aviation Nigeria, EAS Airlines Ltd (NICON), Hamza Air, Harco Air Services and Harka Airlines Nigeria Limited. Others are Okada Air, Oriental airlines, Pan African Airlines, Sosoliso and Space World. The death of these airlines have raised fears in the industry that with the rate at which the domestic airlines are folding up, there may not be financially stable airlines in the country that can compete favourably with their counterparts in other parts of the world. While some of the airlines where in the emergency ward of aviation business for a very long time before they finally folded up, others died with little or no impact in the aviation industry to the chagrin of Nigerians. Some of the challenges airlines are facing in the country are self-inflicted, while others are as a result unfavourable environment they operate in and this has greatly affected their operations. Apart from the fact that the industry is bedevilled by many challenges ranging from infrastructural decay evident in all the 22 airports across the country, congestions at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport [MMIA], Lagos, absence of navigational aids [airfield lighting] at runway 18 Continues on page 11


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Editor’s Note.

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ur mission is to provide top-quality writing that will not only inform and educate, but inspire our readers to explore Africa for themselves. Travel Times will provide content that goes beyond the usual articles carried in newspaper travel sections. We want to know more than how to get to a place or what to do there. We will want to establish relationship with those people who call their destination home, the treasured regional customs, or the places where locals hang out. We want to smell the aromas, taste the food, explore the streets and walk down hidden paths. Travel Times’ aims are to help our readers experience a destination, product or even issues better. Travel Times is a monthly publication for now and will carry a main destination piece that focuses on one particular place in the world. ‘The Insider’ is a destination piece, written from a local or native point of view [can also be written ‘as told to’]. ‘Fascinating People’ is an article profiling a person of interest in any part of Africa. ‘Niche Travel’ is anything from adventure travel to ecotourism. ‘Off-the-beaten Path’ is a special find that most travellers would never see. ‘It Really Happened’ is a first-person essay on a crazy, heart-warming or simply entertaining tale of life on the road. Travel Times will be very visual and photos are important. Please scan photos at 200 dpi and send on disk or via email. Print photos may also be sent in for scanning,

News High Airfares Threaten This Year’s PANAFEST

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News South Africa Plans Crackdown On Immigrants

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if needed. Submitting articles or ideas: Please submit articles to: info@ travelafricanews.com. If your idea fits our style and editorial calendar, an assigning editor will contact you. Feature word length should be between 700-1200. Pay is US$ 25 upon publication. However, keep a few things in mind. Accuracy: Please ensure that all names [including any foreign language words used] are correctly spelled. Phone numbers, addresses and websites should be doublechecked for accuracy, as our readers depend on this information when they travel. Submitting finished articles: Please send the finished document as a word document attachment. Preferably, send digital photos only. Welcome to our world.

Publisher/Editor Lucky Onoriode George Consulting Editor Kirk Leigh

YourExperience The Price Of Being An African, Much More A Refugee

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CONTENTS Best Brands ABC Nigeria Celebrates 7th Anniversary On The West Coast

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Researchers Richard Debrah`Rita Esiekpe Chidima Joan Ndudim Contributing Editors Kola Raji Bridget Obi Chike Osuagwu Sheikh Tejan Nyang Production NairaTimes Communications 08133780213, 08050748424 Travel Times Is A Publication Of Tourism Today Communications

Office Theodak Plaza, Opp National Hospital, Suite 307, Central Business Area, Abuja E-mail: info@travelafricanews.com www.travelafricanews.com

Columnist Okwahu Paragliding Festival 2011 Was Fun

PAGE 18 Contact: P. O. Box 6250, Festac Town, Lagos. Tel: +234-8033546608, 08057984769


Travel Times August Edition, 2011

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High Airfares Threaten This Year’s PANAFEST

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OVERNMENT has targeted increasing tourist arrivals from about 2,2 million in 2010 to four million during the fiveyear period of the Medium Term Plan to increase tourism’s contribution to economic growth and development. Central to attracting tourists will be the majestic Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, animal conservancies Hwange National Park and Gonarezhou National Park, Lake Kariba, Mana Pools and the Eastern Highlands. The MTP has targeted to increase hotel rooms from 6 248 to 15 000 and hotel beds from 12 000 to 18 000. It also envisages development of a National Tourism Plan and implementation of the Victoria Falls Master Plan. Measures will be instituted from 2011-2015 to unlock the tourism sector’s potential as a quick-win option for economic growth and development. The tourism sector is projected to grow by 6 percent this year and 2012. It is also projected to grow by an average of 7 percent in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The main thrust during the period is to have a sustainable and productive sector-driven tourism industry that promotes economic growth. Zimbabwe recorded a decline in arrivals in 2008 due to safety concerns and the economic instability. But the country recorded increases in the last two years and the trend is expected to continue in the next five years. Challenges in ensuring sustained increase in tourist arrivals include skills flight, poor state of the roads, infrastructure that is not adequately maintained, water and electricity shortage, few direct flights from source markets and high utility charges, which increase the cost of doing business. Targets in the MTP will be achieved through upgrading and diversifying the tourism product, streamlining customs and immigration formalities, aggressive marketing, image sprucing and rebranding. Efforts will also be put in promoting domestic tourism through initiatives supported by incentives such as family packages and discounts for local tourists. Capacity building programmes will focus on language training to effectively tap into the country’s major source markets in Europe and Asia. But other potential source markets such as the USA will not be neglected. The programme will also entail skills training for service excellence and capacitating hospitality training institutions such as the one in Bulawayo. The tourism growth strategy will focus on assessing Zimbabwe’s competitive positioning, differentiation strategy, brand identity and establishing

a suitable market position and a unique image for the country. Key success drivers for tourism performance will be identified, promotions programme developed, existing promotional and tourist information material reviewed and tourism administration systems improved. Targeted programmes include development of the National Tourism Master Plan and a review of the Tourism Act to streamline the roles of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry. There will be measures to strengthen the national portal web for easy access to information and reservations by tourists and establishment of efficient, well-stocked and equipped tourist information centres at ports of entry. Government will also rehabilitate and develop tourism infrastructure, establish Ministry of Tourism

administrative structures at provincial and district levels and establishment of visitors bureaus in the top 10 source markets Zimbabwe is strategically positioned at the heart of Southern Africa. The Government will take advantage of this to promote the country as the hub of tourism in the region. Investment options in the sector include tourism resorts, accommodation, sports facilities, restaurants, conference and convention facilities, theme parks and tourist village centres, air services, luxury buses and safari trains, transfrontier parks and hunting safaris. This is the sixth part in a series of articles on the key deliverables of the Medium Term Plan crafted to guide Government programmes in the period 2011-2015.

NTDC Boss Applauds First Lady For Boosting Domestic Tourism

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he NTDC has applauded the decision by the First Lady, her Excellency Dame Patience Jonathan to host the wives of the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker and Governors at a retreat in Obudu Ranch Resorts, Cross River State . The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe said in a statement issued in Abuja that the holding of the retreat at one of the leading tourist destinations in Africa is a further proof of the take off of the much awaited domestic tourism in Nigeria . It will be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan made Obudu his choice for his retreat shortly after the April elections. According to Otunba Runsewe, the decision of the First Lady to host the wives of these public officers at the Obudu Ranch Resort would further help in branding Ni-

geria as a preferred tourist destination of which the citizens are proud of. “We at NTDC have been advocating that Nigerians should visit our destinations, we don’t have to abandon our own for other lands, or how do you think we will develop that way. I give the First Lady kudos for following the President’s example”, Otunba Runsewe said. The Director General therefore called on other public office holders, elected politicians and the leading private sector players to emulate the President and the First Lady for their initiatives therefore strengthening and supporting the campaign for Nigerians to spend their holidays and leisure in Nigeria . “We have world class facilities in Nigeria, be it serene environment where nature is at its best, hospitality facilities, shopping facilities and white sand beaches, all you can feel and appreciate across the country”, Otunba Runsewe added.

News Franchise: NTDC To Close Down Hotels

Zimbabwe: Country Seeks To Double Tourism Arrivals The government is targeting to increase tourist arrivals from about 2,2 million in 2010 to four million during the five-year period of the Medium Term Plan to increase tourism’s contribution to economic growth and development. Central to attracting tourists will be the majestic Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, animal conservancies Hwange National Park and Gonarezhou National Park, Lake Kariba, Mana Pools and the Eastern Highlands. The MTP has targeted to increase hotel rooms from 6 248 to 15 000 and hotel beds from 12 000 to 18 000. It also envisages development of a National Tourism Plan and implementation of the Victoria Falls Master Plan. Measures will be instituted from 2011-2015 to unlock the tourism sector’s potential as a quick-win option for economic growth and development. The tourism sector is projected to grow by 6 percent this year and 2012. It is also projected to grow by an average of 7 percent in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The main thrust during the period is to have a sustainable and productive sector-driven tourism industry that promotes economic growth. Zimbabwe recorded a decline in arrivals in 2008 due to safety concerns and the economic instability. But the country recorded increases in the last two years and the trend is expected to continue in the next five years. Challenges in ensuring sustained increase in tourist arrivals include skills flight, poor state of the roads, infrastructure that is not adequately maintained, water and electricity shortage, few direct flights from source markets and high utility charges, which increase the cost of doing business. Targets in the MTP will be achieved through upgrading and diversifying the tourism product, streamlining customs and immigration formalities, aggressive marketing, image sprucing and rebranding. Efforts will also be put in promoting domestic tourism through initiatives supported by incentives such as family packages and discounts for local tourists. Capacity building programmes will focus on language training to effectively tap into the country’s major source markets in Europe and Asia. But other potential source markets such as the USA will not be neglected. The programme will also entail skills training for service excellence and capacitating hospitality training institutions such as the one in Bulawayo. The tourism growth strategy will focus on assessing Zimbabwe’s competitive positioning, differentiation strategy, brand identity and establishing a suitable market position and a unique image for the country. Key success drivers for tourism performance will be identified, promotions programme developed, existing promotional and tourist information material reviewed and tourism administration systems improved. Targeted programmes include development of the National Tourism Master Plan and a review of the Tourism Act to streamline the roles of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry. There will be measures to strengthen the national portal web for easy access to information and reservations by tourists and establishment of efficient, well-stocked and equipped tourist information centres at ports of entry. Government will also rehabilitate and develop tourism infrastructure, establish Ministry of Tourism administrative structures at provincial and district levels and establishment of visitors bureaus in the top 10 source markets. Zimbabwe is strategically positioned at the heart of Southern Africa. The Government will take advantage of this to promote the country as the hub of tourism in the region. Investment options in the sector include tourism resorts, accommodation, sports facilities, restaurants, conference and convention facilities, theme parks and tourist village centres, air services, luxury buses and safari trains, transfrontier parks and hunting safaris. l This is the sixth part in a series of articles on the key deliverables of the Medium Term Plan crafted to guide Government programmes in the period 2011-2015.

Jacob Zuma, President, South Africa

South Africa Plans Crackdown On Immigrants

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outh Africa has set the stage for the mass deportation of more than one million Zimbabwean immigrants later this month in a move that could alter its status as the world’s largest country of refuge. South Africa has been a beacon for asylum seekers due to its liberal immigration laws, proximity to African trouble spots, and massive economy compared to the rest of the continent, that has attracted millions seeking wealth they cannot find at home. About one in five of the 845,800 asylum seekers globally in 2010 sought refuge in South Africa, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. That is nearly double the combined figure for the United States and France, the world’s number two and three countries in terms of asylum applications. The bulk of asylum seekers are from neighbouring Zimbabwe, which has become an economic basket case under its entrenched leader, Robert Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF party has been charged by global powers with using violence and vote fraud to stay in power. The government said the crackdown on the Zimbabweans is a signal it wants to get tough on those who use asylum applications to seek work and money. “Following this project, our intention is

to document nationals of other neighbouring countries,” said Home Affairs spokesman, Ronnie Mamoepa. South Africa allowed hundreds of thousands from Zimbabwe to enter without documents about two years ago when its neighbour was swept up in political violence and its already unsteady economy collapsed under the weight of hyperinflation. It set an end of 2010 deadline for the Zimbabweans to apply for proper visas with 275,000 filling out paperwork - and said when July ends, it will start deporting what analysts estimate could be one to two million other Zimbabweans without proper documents. Bottlenecks With few staff and a flood of applicants, it can take Home Affairs months or even years to process applications, allowing immigrants to stay long enough to earn mostly modest sums of money to help their families back home. “As long as regional economic inequalities remain so stark, South Africa will continue to be a primary (if temporary) destination,” said Loren Landau, director of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University the Witwatersrand. The only problem is that those legitimately seeking political asylum face an uncertain future, waiting longer in South Africa for a decision than in many other

countries. A concern for South Africa is that not only are the number of asylum seekers from neighbouring countries growing, but so are the numbers from further afield African states including Somalia, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With unemployment at 25 per cent, the government has faced criticism from its poor for allowing immigrants into South Africa, where they compete for scarce jobs and space in shanty towns that have mushroomed in major cities. Tensions flared about two years ago when attacks on migrants left at least 62 dead and more than 100,000 homeless, rattling the nerves of the government and investors. The refugees strain public services but many also take on jobs for which there are not enough skilled South Africans, or perform work that South Africans do not want to do.“I would say that the net result is that the benefit equates to or surpasses the burden,” said James Chapman, a refugee attorney at the University of Cape Town Law Clinic.The government, concerned about the influx, is planning to tighten its borders and expel those who stay illegally.“The issue here is not about too many asylum seekers, per se. Rather, it’s about a migration management regime that is ill-suited to South Africa’s regional position,” Mr Landau said.

THE Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) said it would soon close down some hospitality outfits for the using of international hospitality brands without properly obtaining the proper franchise from registered owners. This development was made known by the NTDC boss at a press conference in Lagos. He said the consequence of such infringements by these few hotels in the country is robbing the country of huge investment by some hospitality outfits as they are weary of doing business in an environment whereby their registered names are infringed upon. The NTDC boss said the issue was a major topic at the Hotel Investment Forum in Cape Town, South Africa where the NTDC DG delivered a paper on behalf of Nigeria. He said on the basis of this, the NTDC, by its statutory responsibility as the body in charge of registering and supervising hospitality outfits in the country, would give these hotels improperly infringing on the names of international hospitality owners to effect a change immediately or have their hotels closed down. In addition, the NTDC boss said the corporation would soon embark on the closure of tourism and hospitality outfits that have failed to register as stipulated by the law. Meanwhile, the NTDC DG has applauded the decision by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, to host the wives of the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker and Governors at a retreat in Obudu Ranch Resorts, Cross River State . THE NTDC DG in a statement said the holding of the retreat at one of the leading tourist destinations in Africa is a further proof of the take-off of the much awaited domestic tourism in Nigeria. It will be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan made Obudu his choice for his retreat shortly after the April elections. According to Otunba Runsewe, the decision of the First Lady to host the wives of these public officers at the Obudu Ranch Resort would further help in branding Nigeria as a preferred tourist destination of which the citizens are proud of. “We at NTDC have been advocating that Nigerians should visit our destinations. We don’t have to abandon our own for other lands, or how do you think we will develop that way. I give the First Lady kudos for following the President’s example”, Otunba Runsewe said. The Director General, therefore, called on other public office holders, elected politicians and the leading private sector players to emulate the President and the First Lady for their initiatives, therefore, strengthening and supporting the campaign for Nigerians to spend their holidays and leisure in Nigeria. “We have world- class facilities in Nigeria, be it serene environment where nature is at its best, hospitality facilities, shopping facilities and white sand beaches, all you can feel and appreciate across the country”, Otunba Runsewe added.

Nigerian Cultural House In Brazil To Boost Tourism By Rita Esiekpe [Abuja] Mr Edem Duke, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, says the Nigerian Cultural House in Brazil will become a benchmark to promote cultural diplomacy and tourism. Duke made the remark when the Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, Mr Vincent Okoedion, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja. “We will use the opportunity to strengthen the visibility of our cultural assets and values as well as entertainment in that country. “We are determined to ensure that the Nigerian House will not only serve for display of our artifacts, but also to promote and market the country’s tourism potential,” he said. The minister also said that as part of effort to promote the country’s tourism, the ministry would organise a cultural week in August in Brazil, using e-marketing facilities. He said the ministry would also explore the possibility of establishing an African restaurant in Brazil. He added that the ministry, would further explore the prospects of encouraging tourists to visit Nigeria to witness the Osun-Osogbo Festival and the Abuja Carnival taking place later this year. “We will establish a Nigerian Cultural House in China and another in Barbados in the Caribbeans, which was founded by freed Nigerian slaves,” Duke said.


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‘We should be moregenerous and friendly in receiving those [few] who are needed. To be more generous, we have to draw the line.’

Illegal immigrants allegedly ‘given UK visas for bribes’ Several media sources have this weekend reported that Immigration officials dished out top-class visas to illegal immigrants in exchange for bribes, it is claimed.

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Freeze Immigration And Put British People First, Says Ed Miliband’s Policy Guru

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ritain should freeze immigration to stop foreign workers taking jobs from Britons, according to one of Ed Miliband’s key policy gurus. Lord Glasman, who was appointed to the House of Lords by the Labour leader, said the country was not a United Nations ‘outpost’. The peer also called for the UK to renegotiate rules allowing the free movement of migrant workers within the EU – a proposal that Mr Miliband insisted his close friend had not discussed with him. Lord Glasman told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We’ve got to re-interrogate our relationship with the EU on the movement of labour. ‘Britain is not an outpost of the UN. We have to put the people in this country first. The EU has gone from being a sort of pig farm-subsidised bloc to the free movement of labour and capital.’ Lord Glasman, a politics lecturer and social thinker, said it may be necessary to stop immigration for a while to put British workers at the front of the queue for new jobs. Such a move would also make it easier for the genuinely deserving to be let into the country if they had in-demand skills, he suggested. Lord Glasman said: ‘We should be moregenerous and friendly in receiving those [few] who are needed. To be more generous, we have to draw the line.’ As founder of ‘Blue Labour’, which mixes the principles of faith, flag and family with socialism, he has admitted his views can be ‘more conservative than the Conservatives’ and has accused Labour of lying over immigration. Yesterday, Mr Miliband tried to play down

the significance of his comments, adding: ‘I’ve said in the past we’ve underestimated the impact of Polish migration to Britain. It’s quite hard to negotiate the terms of free movement of labour.’ He said the right solution was to ‘have a firm immigration policy, also to provide people with the guarantees that they need in relation to wages and conditions which is one of the biggest worries that people have about some of the migration that we’ve seen’. But he was urged to heed Lord Glasman’s advice by Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch campaign group, who said: ‘It’s quite clear that Ed Miliband still doesn’t get it if he’s talking about Polish migration

when 80 per cent of net migration under Labour was from outside the EU. The public are going to get very tired of continuing Labour evasion on a matter of deep and widespread concern.’ However, Sir Andrew admitted: ‘Although Lord Glasman understands the depth of public feeling on immigration, renegotiating the free movement of people is over the top. It is simply not practicable.’ Ministers want to cut immigration to tens of thousands a year. But Lord Glasman’s renegotiation plan goes even further than calls by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith for bosses to employ young Britons ahead of foreigners.

Border Controls Could Be Reintroduced In Schengen Area

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he European Union opened the door to allowing countries to reintroduce national border controls in order to police illegal immigration, in response to growing fears about whether it can handle an influx of North African migrants, The Wall Street Journal reports. Bringing back border checks would be allowed only under exceptional circumstances, but the measure would nonetheless be a step toward reversing unhindered travel across most of the bloc’s internal borders, one of the EU’s signature achievements. The UK has allowed free movement to A8 members since the EU expansion in 2004, however, a common misconception by British employers is that all members of the European Union have the same rights to work here. Wrong. Not all EU members – Bulgarians and Romanians - have the right to freely work in the UK. Full story... International Student of the Year 2011 results from British Council The Shine! International Student Awards 2011 is an exciting and prestigious competition celebrating the achievements and contributions of International students studying in the UK. To register your application to be an international student…contact UKUS via the online Registration Form… Sunday Times Rich List published – UK

benefits from wealthy immigrants Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal continues to top the list, even though his fortune has fallen by nearly £5bn (22%) in the past year, now standing at £17.5bn. Illegal immigrants allegedly ‘given UK visas for bribes’ Several media sources have this weekend reported that Immigration officials dished out top-class visas to illegal immigrants in exchange for bribes, it is claimed. Migrants from Eastern European ‘add £5bn’ to Britain’s GDP report finds Immigrants from Eastern Europe have added almost £5bn to Britain’s economy since 2004, according to a report published by the BBC last this month. But are all EU migrants the

same? Immigration Minister Damian Green answers your questions on YouTube Immigration Minister Damian Green last week responded on YouTube to a selection of questions about immigration asked by members of the public. Ageing Western populations and falling birth rates – a demographic time bomb Western European countries like Germany, France and the UK all have two major problems which are catastrophically linked together: Ageing populations and falling birth rates. The combined ‘demographic timebomb’ creates a whole raft of headaches for future governments, which past administrations have quietly swept under the carpet. There is not just the question of who is going look after the elderly…Full story... Free service launched to help overseas students study at UK Universities UKUS is a free University and College Admissions and Advice Service based in London, UK. Full story... If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship, ILT, Citizenship, Tier 4 Student Visa renewals and changes, Tier 2 Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:

Travel Times August Edition, 2011


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Can We Trust These Men With Nigeria’s Tourism ... Contd from Page 1

promised to lead his team in the direction that will foster new prospects for national development. Chief Duke said, by harnessing the country’s resources within the industry, jobs can be created for the nation’s teeming youths, while also making meaningful contribution to the development of Nigeria’s revenue profile. This would settle the perennial calls for government to diversify Nigeria’s economy from dependency on oil and its related activities by encouraging sectors such as tourism, among others. The minister was quoted as saying that over the years, the public has been sceptical about the contributions of the tourism and culture industry to the development of the country and reassure Nigeria’s small and medium enterprises [SMEs] that tourism ministry is in a position to translate their dreams into reality because the sector contributes to every economy in the world, particularly Africa’s. Should he make good his words, the former president of the FTAN would register as ‘a square peg in a square hole’. But this is where the romanticising ends; there are difficult tasks ahead. And this is where the leaderships of the NTDC and that of FTAN, under the leadership of Samuel Alabi must work with the ministry in moving the sector forward. The best first step forward would be the convocation of a stakeholders meeting through which the ministry can sample the views and draw from the expertise of the private sector where critical issues affecting the sector can be exhaustibly discussed and a new road map drawn. With the enormous tasks ahead, the question on the minds of not a few stakeholders is: can we trust the leadership of Edem Duke, Segun Runsewe and Alabi Samuel to work as a team that will give new meaning to Nigeria’s tourism industry? Problems of Tourism in Nigeria The tourism industry is no doubt, one of the most competitive sectors in the world. And Nigeria is blessed with abundant and diverse natural and socio– cultural resources for sustainable tourism development. Despite her rich tourism potentials, the country has not been able to fully harness them for economic

development and social integration. Funding: This is the most serious impediment to tourism development and promotion in Nigeria. Tourism is grossly under-funded and as such, cannot be developed to the desired level as to impact positively on the economy. Manpower: The tourism sector in Nigeria lacks adequately trained manpower to carry out their professional duties. Infrastructure: Basic facilities required for easy access to tourist attractions are either not available or grossly inadequate. These include absence of good roads, erratic supply of electricity, defective rail transport, inefficient communications and irregular water supply. For example, the popular Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River State operates on generators such that by 12 midnight, the light is put off till 6.00am. And again, there is a break between 10.00am and 6.00pm during the day. The question is, given this state of affairs, how do we expect steady traffic to this resort? Tourism Marketing and Promotion: This is the most frustrating aspect of the sector in the last 20 years. The NTDC and the private sector have failed to achieve synergy in their efforts towards effective and efficient marketing of Nigeria’s tourism potentials, be it locally or internationally. It is either the funds are not made available or they are released late or in most cases, the NTDC leadership just do not know what to do. Policy instruments: The 1990 National Tourism Policy only provides the general framework that lacks specific instruments to facilitate effective implementation thereby making achievement of policy objectives very difficult, if not impossible. Tourism Statistics: In Nigeria, there is complete lack of statistical data on tourism, which makes it difficult to plan and make projections for the industry. The Federal Office of Statistics [FOS] and the Nigerian Immigration Service do not work hand-in-hand to enable us know for instance, how many people enter the country in a particular year. Besides, it is a fact that Nigeria has one of the most porous borders in the world, which makes the influx of illegal immigrants very easy. Networking: The absence of a proper network among the various stakeholders is no doubt a problem, which must be addressed. Because the tourism industry is purely a service sector, it is very difficult in a

weak economy like ours to quantify the contributions of tourism to the national economy. Nigeria’s tourism administrators, whether at the federal, state or local levels, do not network with the relevant private sector operators who are indeed the lubricants that tourism needs to function properly. They have also failed in passing information at their disposal to places where they are needed for further processing to elicit enquiries or even outright patronage. Again, the culture parastatals of the ministry must network with the NTDC, so also is the National Park Service for the tourism agency to effectively package and market the nation’s tourism potentials. This, at the moment, is lacking. Security: All the troubled regions of the world have all suffered losses of patronage. Nigeria is not yet an established tourism market yet and we are plagued by insecurity and instability. No sane tourist will visit where he or she may likely not return home to tell stories to friends, relatives and colleagues about his or her travel experiences. What Went Wrong Between 1963 till Date? From the Nigeria Tourist Association [NTA] to the Nigeria Tourist Board [NTB] and now the NTDC, the stories about their operations are moving from good to bad and to worse. Between 1963 and 1975, the euphoria of Nigeria’s tourism potentials was thick in the air. That was when Nigeria played a prominent role globally in the business of tourism. From all available records, the leadership of the NTA headed by late Ignacius Amaduwa Atigbi did so well that he became the chairman of Africa Commission and executive council member of the then International Union of Official Travel- Organization [IUOTO], now the World Tourism Organization [WTO]. The second phase of real tourism promotion and development began between 1975 and 1983. Though under the military regime, some spirited efforts were made when N1 million each was given to the twelve existing states then specifically for tourism. The period 1983–1999 was the era of prolonged military rule in Nigeria. Because of the military rule and political crisis, there were several travel adversary warnings by foreign embassies for their nationals

to stay away from Nigeria. These warnings brought down tourists’ traffic to Nigeria. Under the military and even up till now, appointment of Tourism ministers and head of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], were never based on merit, but on the influence of godfathers. This attitude of not putting a round peg in a round hole has brought much mediocrity into the administration of tourism in Nigeria, and this is made worse by the harrowing economic situation in the country. The period 1983–1999 was another unforgettable era in the promotion and development of tourism in the country. There was very little developmental project, except for the Decree 81 of 1992 establishing the NTDC. The suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth and the inability of various government agencies to participate in international tourism events was a stumbling block that badly affected the promotion and networking with relevant international tourism agencies and the private sector was very ineffective. Then came the period 1999 – till date, when the current democratic dispensation was inaugurated on May 29, 1999. A new live was injected into tourism with the creation of the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture to facilitate proper coordination of the sector. Without doubt, it was a welcome development for tourism in Nigeria when Ojo Maduekwe became the pioneer minister of the ministry until the cabinet reshuffle when he was moved to another ministry. Since then, subsequent appointments were not done in the interest of the tourism sector. The Way Forward The volume, level and type of tourism to be achieved for Nigeria in the future must be decided on the basis of conscious and constant planning by government in cooperation with the private sector. For such plans to be meaningful, priority should be given to tourism as a factor in development, as a whole, with particular emphasis on the economic and social impact. Planning and Control The federal government should assume responsibility for all the main elements of the tourism sector including planning, training, marketing, promotion, information and data collection, supervision of tourism enterprises, cultural, ecological/ environmental aspects. These could be achieved by properly funding and equipping the NTDC – the apex tourism agency of the federal government responsible for the implementation of the national tourism policy with effective monitoring of its activities too. Determine the national or regional tourism product, its nature, scope, size, infrastructural requirements as well as the present and future potential in the context of our national or regional planning as a whole. Government should also assess costs and benefits of tourism and all its constituent elements, appropriate rates of growth, tourism attractions, and historical, cultural and social values. Research and development: there should be a systematic assessment at regular intervals of the impact of tourism on a national and regional basis, with constant monitoring of future resource of all agencies. International sources for financial and technical assistance should be identified and inputs coordinated in such a way as to avoid duplication of duties and achieve complementary action. Marketing and Promotion: Publicity and Information Short, medium and long-term national and regional marketing and promotional plans for local, regional and international tourism should be established. Existing systems for the collection, coordination, retrieval and dissemination of statistical and research data should be established or improved in order to form the basis for objective decision making. Effective system of overseas representation either in cooperation with existing tour operators or on independent basis, the main markets of origin should be established. Training and Professional Development Manpower needs for the industry on short, medium and long-term basis should be established. NIHOTOUR must be strengthened to enable it to continuously train and develop human resources for the tourism sector.

Travel Times August Edition, 2011


10

Your Experience

11

Your Experience

The Price of Being an African, Much More a Refugee In today’s world, as an African, you are presumed to be poor, not well fed and someone to be pitied all the time; that requires aid without being aided. The West African sub-region is not spared of crisis just like most parts of the continent. Past wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and recently Cote‘d Ivoire led to the forced mass movement of people, mostly women and children. Refugee camps in Oru in Ogun State of Nigeria and Buduburam Camp in Ghana as well as settlements in Guinea sprang up. However on 30th June, 2008, the camps in Ghana and Nigeria were officially closed, but technically wound up by December 2008. Lucky Onoriode George visited the two camps to gauge the mood of the refugees and to hear their harrowing experiences then. Two years later he checked to see what has changed and their hope for the future. being the head of the majority community automatically made him the overall head, narrated how the only Syrian in the camp died last year due to lack of medical care. In 1997, 2,000 refugees left in voluntary repatriation. Spontaneous repatriation is an on-going process. For instance, 130 refugees left last week, while another batch of 67 will be leaving next week. There were five Togolese in the camp at the beginning but now there are only three left since December 2005. At Buduburam Camp, Aston Reeves, my guide, a father of three came to Ghana as a refugee in 1993 when he was just 17 year s old. Now 34, he wants to return home but to where he asked? His father died during the second round of fighting in Liberia in 2003 and the mother now lives in Guinea and he is the first

child in a family of three. Alston told of how his last brother left for the United States since August in 2003, same year he lost his father and has since turned his back on him as well as their aged mother. Surviving, according to him, is by the grace of God and friends that were lucky to have settled in a third country. At Buduburam Camp, Alston works as a volunteer welfare officer. Unlike many of his fellow Liberians, he was lucky to have completed his secondary education before they fled Liberia. While in Ghana as a refugee, Alston went back to school and studied at the Ghana’s Winneba University where he obtained a degree in Teacher’s Education and now teaches at St. Burrus Memorial Academy School where he teaches Social Studies-and earn less than $20

a month. The wife who was unable to complete her education also supports the family by doing hair plating among other menial jobs to support the family. Unlike their Nigeria-based fellow refugees, Alston was privileged to have benefited from the Buduburam Refugees Education Bureau in Ghana, which provided scholarship for three-year programme, a gesture he is very grateful for. 150 other Liberian refugees benefited from the Ghanaian government gesture. Majority of his fellow beneficiaries have returned home and are now working with the Liberian Education Authority through UNHCR. Other areas where Liberian refugees got scholarship, according to him, are Agricultural Science, Political Science and Business Administration. Looking very tired from exhaustion

having toured the entire camp with me, he looked up and said in a low tone that regrettably, people of college/high school ages did not benefit from the programme, especially the vulnerable ones and the many that were orphaned by the war. “I am willing to go back home, however, going back home means starting afresh, a risk many refugees like me are not willing to take,” he said. Like many refugees, he swore to remain in Ghana until opportunity for a resettlement in a third country arises; and until his finance improves to take care of his family, he would not return to Liberia. At the Oru Camp in Nigeria, Buduburam as well as the hundreds of thousands refugees living among the population in Guinea, to eat a meal a day is a struggle because, according to many of the refugees interviewed, UNHCR

A Liberian boy offers thanksgiving prayer before starting to eat his meal at the refugee camp in Buduburam, Ghana. Buduburam, Ghana. UN Photo/John Isaac. www.unmultimedia.org

never provides enough for everyone. On the ongoing repatriation exercise, UNHCR insisted that refugees cannot return home with more than 50kg luggage and hand bag luggage 5kg as a punitive measure, because in 2006, the UNHCR had warned that any refugee who did not return home under its initiated voluntary repatriation from June 2006 to June 2007, would not be allowed to return home with their personal belongings. With the aforementioned causing disquiet among the refugees, they called on the Ghanaian authorities to help provide transportation to enable them take home all their belongings. Technically, the camp officially closed on June 30th, 2008, but remained opened till December 31st, 2008. But as a result of UNHCR plans (then) to close the camps in Nigeria and Ghana to forcefully end what it called a regime of refugees in West Africa, according to Mr. Alphonse Malanda, UNHCR country representative for Nigeria and ECOWAS, schools and health services at the Oru Camp in Nigeria were closed with the refugees themselves providing makeshift health care at the moment. The Buduburam camp on the outskirts of the Ghana’s Capital, Accra, had the various schools at the camp closed, except those run by individuals and churches, while the hospital remained open because it was run by churches with some support from UNHCR. Some NGOs were present at Buduburam Camp namely, Children Better Way (CBW), Faith Foundation by a church group, St. Gregory Catholic and Caroline A. Miller. Because of the UNCHR action, the refugees themselves made arrangements on how their properties acquired during the 18 years stay in Ghana would get home. Mr. Maxwell Brown Obi, a Nigerian who has a Liberian wife is one of the few truck owners who lived in the camp with his family that routinely made the 10 days journey to Liberia. “The journey takes so long because of the checking at the borders with each of the countries providing escort to ensure safe passage or from being attacked by bandits,” he said. Surviving as a male refugee at any of the camps or settlement is a struggle as I discovered. As for the women, it is an unimaginable experience. I was made to understand by the young ladies themselves that they do the unthinkable. Young ladies are impregnated without knowing who is responsible because of multiple relationships they keep just to survive in camp, damming the consequences of contracting dreaded diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and the rate of infection is rather high, according to an aid worker. Pennyoumhowe Pennine Nagbe qualified as a nurse before she fled Liberia. At Buduburam, she ran a small health programme where she cared for the aged and children free of charge. She was rushing out to Kolebu Teaching Hospital, Accra, to see a patient that was on admission when I approached her for an interview. Then 37 year old and a single parent to

Young ladies are impregnated without knowing who is responsible because of multiple relationship they keep just to survive in camp, damming the consequences of contracting dreaded diseases such as HIV/AIDS which an aid worker told me that rates of infection are quite very high.

a 13 year old boy, said living in a camp like Buduburam as a woman is hell. Without mincing words, she said the ladies are the bread winners for their families. “The ladies work to feed their families, they go out for days with various men and when they return, they give the little they were able to make to their mums and say, “mummy, keep that money, it’s for the whole week,” and will be back in few days and off she goes again. As a father or mother under that circumstances, what can you do, she queried? Jolene Doe is a beautiful 25 year old beautician refugee at Buduburam Camp. She said she makes about $20 to $30 a week and asked if she would be tempted if a man approached her for a fling or a week out for $50. She smiled and said ‘yes’. What can you do? That is what the situation forced on you. Refugees at both Buduburam and Oru Camps agreed that their relationship with the host community were very cordial over the years, except the usual disputes. But there were a lapses, especially in the area of communication at the Oru Camp refugees with their Ijebu hosts. Most of the refugees spoke English because majority of them were fairly literate. On the other hand, the community people couldn’t speak English because they are mostly rural people, thereby making communication very difficult. Apart from communication problems, the refugees at Oru complained that in marketing their products they were able to produce, the local people that purchased them determine the prices. The refugees have no bargaining power over the crops like, cassava, maize they produce. According to the Oru Camp leadership, they stopped farming years ago, except for domestic consumption when they could no longer bear the ridiculous prices which the local people bought their products after much hard labour to grow and harvest them. Gaye, noted that “It has been very stressful feeding ourselves. We have survived till date by sheer tenacity and endurance.”

L

iving as a refugee in West Africa, like other places across the continent, is a death sentence of sorts. Hand outs can never be enough and can never be a substitute for when they lived in their home environments, except when resettled in a third country, for example in Europe, Canada and America that are usually the best options. This life of neglect and abandonment is being played out in Oru Camp in South Western Nigeria where some 25,00 refugees now live under no form of care by international or local agencies - they are essentially on their own. The camp closed down in 2008 On closure, UNCHR handed N75, 000 to some families [while each child gets N7, 000] to resettle them under a programme called 3R- Resettlement, Reintegration and Rehabilitation. Regrettably, the programme failed because of the lacklustre implementation which was supposed to be overseen and monitored by the Nigerian Refugee Commission that was involved in the negotiation. Conditions remain tough according to Charles Lebbie, a Sierra Leonean, who lived in the Camp for a decade and one time president of his country’s refugees association. He says as much as 25 people have died due to hardship since 2008. According to him, now living in the Camp are Congolese, Liberians, Eritreans, Ivoirians, Congolese, Rwandis, Sierra Leoneans and Liberians. The harsh conditions of refugees even before the Camps were closed left much to be desired. Backtracking three years when this reporter visited some camps in West Africa, the stories that came out showed a pattern of neglect and deprivation At Oru Camp at Ijebu Igbo, near Lagos, the trio of Mr. Reginald Gaye, chairman of the Liberian refugees community, Mr Olympio Jacob, chairman of the Togolese refugees and minority group, refugees from all other countries and Mohammed Mansaray, chairman of the Sierra Leonean refugees, all lament the plights of the refugee community in West Africa. The trio went back memory lane, especially Mr. Gaye who was one of the first to arrive Oru Camp. “The refugee camp is about 18 years old having come here since 1990 when it was established. There were about 35,000 refugees then but by today this has been reduced to a mere 3,500 because many refugees have voluntarily returned home, but Liberian refugees are still in the majority”, he said. In 2003 when war broke out again in Liberia, more refugees returned again, especially those that had earlier voluntarily returned home before and the camp’s population swelled to about 70,000 people. At that period, according to Gaye, Liberians were still in the majority, while there were about 20,000 Sierra Leoneans and others were about 5,000. The refugees came from various countries in Africa; Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Sudan, Chad, Rwanda, Uganda, Eritrea, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), even Syria. Looking soberly, the chairman of the camp,

The men engaged themselves by trekking to Ijebu Igbo at the local sawmill through which they earn some money for themselves, while women and the young ladies engage themselves in braiding and plaiting of hair for the university students from Olabisi Onabanjo University nearby and that majority of them live on remittances from relatives overseas. At the beginning, the Nigerian government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross Society were initially at the forefront of assistance to the refugees, but over time, help gradually dwindled. However, Mr Olympio Jacob, chairman of the Togolese refugees said, “We are still getting rations, but it is on subsistence level. We got a ration last month consisting of 3kg of rice, 1kg of beans per head, but there was no cash”. Even before the closure of the Camps, UNHCR abandoned refugees at Oru Camp in Nigeria; The non-governmental organizations also left them to their plight. They all pulled out in June 2007. However, supports from Development Initiative of West Africa (DIWA) based in Minna, Niger State, African Concern headed by Prince Bola Ajibola and Oasis Foundation of Grail Movement-Nigeria weren’t the highest donor especially in the area of medical aid. In the area of education, there was no assistance in form of scholarship. According to the refugees, less than 10 people benefited from scholarship since 1997 and only at secondary school level. “We are ready to go back home, to our countries of origin. Of course, some of us are afraid of going back home for political and psychological reasons. We need assurance of our safety back home and there is also the problem of uncertainty which is the psychological reason for reluctance to go back home,” one of the refugees had appealed “We are appealing to the Federal Government of Nigeria to be kind to us and not send us away empty handed. We have been told that we will only be permitted to take only 3kg of rice or beans and other food items per


Your Experience ... Much More A Refugee 13

Children arrive at a transit camp for refugees who fled the post-election violence in Ivory Coast, in Zorgowee, Liberia, April 5. More than 125,000 Ivorians have fled to Liberia, while 7,000 have crossed into Ghana, 1,700 into Togo, and about 1,000 into Guinea, according to the UNHCR. Benoit Matsha-Carpentier/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies/Reuters

Refugees from Côte d’Ivoire walk along a forest trail to find safety and shelter in eastern Liberia. Source: talkafrique.com

head,” he said. They argued that their sojourn in Nigeria would be in vain for no fault of theirs and it is contrary to all known international standards, rules and regulations governing refugee repatriation. It was for this unfair turn-out of events that some refugees opted to stay back in Nigeria despite the UNCHR 3R initiative and are getting more than they bargained for three years down the line. The inhuman conditions that they face have raised several questions, including the rights of refugees. The statute which established the UNHCR gave the organisation two main functions: to protect refugees and to promote durable solutions to their problems. According to its statute, UNHCR is authorised to assist any person who, “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear or for reasons other than personal convenience, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…” Under the International protection of refugees; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) sets out everyone’s basic human rights. Article 14[1] states, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” Recognising the need to protect refugees, Tommaso De Cataldo, head of mission, International Organisation for Migration [IOM] to Nigeria, noted that ‘Such large movements of people have major political, economic, social and cultural consequences for both those persons forced to move and for the countries receiving these displaced people.” International legal instruments have been drawn up that protect the rights of refugees and lay down minimum rights to which refugees are entitled. The 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees guarantees minimum standards for refugees within their country of asylum and aims to ensure that refugees are treated in the same way in all states which are party to the UN Refugee Convention. Meanwhile, Article 1 A [2] of the 1951 Refu-

Some arrested Liberian refugees at Buduburam Source: shout-africa.com

gee Convention contains a definition of the term “refugee”. A refugee is any person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country or to return there because there is a fear of persecution…” The last aforementioned may not still be in places like Liberia and Sierra Leone, but the fear of insecurity remains. On February 19, 2008, in light of the perceived lack of options to progress from their protracted refugee situations, a group of several hundred Liberian women began a peaceful protest to call for additional assistance from

acquires the nationality of a new country. The two aforementioned has not happened and the Liberian refugees after 18 years are being forced to return home against their wish. Though, a convention refugee can also lose that status if circumstances at home change in such a fundamental way that the reasons for becoming a refugee have ceased to exist. On what rights do individuals have once they have been recognised as convention refugees, Articles 12 - 30 of the 1951 Refugee Convention set out the rights as including that once they have been recognised as convention refugees: “All refugees must be granted identity papers and travel documents that allow them to travel outside the country, refugees must receive the same treatment as nationals of the receiving country with regard to the following rights, free exercise of religion and

12 Travel Times August Edition, 2011

“We are refugees! Why does the Nigerian Government want to dispossess us of our properties? It is not fair”. “We are been sent back to start life afresh after eighteen years of sufferings here”.

the UNHCR on the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana. The UNHCR, the Government of Ghana, and the protesting refugees were unable to reach a compromise and on March 17, 2008, before dawn, the Ghanaian authorities arrived at the camp and arrested en masse over six hundred of these women and some children and were put detention for two weeks without being brought to court. Article 1A (c) also sets out the conditions in which a Convention refugee will lose that status. In the main, it can only be when the refugee voluntarily decides to return home or

religious education, free access to the courts, including legal assistance and access to elementary education.” Others are, access to public relief and assistance, protection provided by social security, protection of industrial property, such as inventions and trade names, protection of literary, artistic and scientific work and equal treatment by taxing authorities. Also, refugees must receive the most favourable treatment provided to nationals of a foreign country with regard to the following

rights: the right to belong to trade unions, the right to belong to other non-political nonprofit organisations and the right to engage in wage-earning employment. Finally, refugees must receive the most favourable treatment possible, which must be at least as favourable as that accorded aliens generally in the same circumstances, with regard to the following rights, the right to own property, the right to practice a profession, the right to self-employment, access to housing and access to higher education. The refugees must receive the same treatment as that accorded to aliens generally with regard to the following rights; the right to choose their place of residence and the right to move freely within the country where they have been recognised as convention refugee. In West Africa, presently, UNHCR said there are about 80,000 refugees in the sub-region of mostly Liberians and it is determined to ensure that in the next few years, the name refugee will be deleted from the work of the agency completely. The reason being that the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] Treaty provides for free movement of persons and goods, but in reality, there are several restrictions and extortion and therefore movement within member states cannot be considered free. However, the question that readily comes to mind is: would people forced to flee their countries be considered legal migrants who planned their journey or resettlement? Observers are of the view that UNHCR is forcefully asking refugees to return home because it can no longer cope with the cost of keeping them, for fear of clashes with local authority like the one witnessed in Ghana recently and because of undue political pressure from the refugees home states. Whatever the reason may be, the general view is that, the Liberian refugees, among others, should be treated fairly, justly and be given enough time to integrate, voluntarily return home or be re-settled in a third country if possible. This is because many of them have suffered stigmatisation, exploitation, denied education and the constant emotional trauma they may live with for the rest of their life


14 Travel Times August Edition, 2011

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Cover

15 Travel Times August Edition, 2011

Nigerian Airlines: Why They Cannot ... Conted from Page 1 left of the Lagos airport and other airports, which does not allow for night flights, bad state of cooling system at the airport and the huge debts owed agencies and financial institutions. But, surprisingly, one of the major challenges of the airline operators in Nigeria is the sky rocketing price of aviation fuel also known as jet A1, which operators have said is one of the highest in the world. This has become dearer at aboveN180 compared to the previous N80. This has further made it impossible for airlines to break even and severally the operators and the major oil marketers have met on this issue, but their meetings have not yielded the desired results, as the price is increasing by the day. No thanks to Nigeria’s oil producing status and membership of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC]. In the area of spare parts, the airlines are finding it extremely difficult to purchase aircraft parts requiring foreign currency as none of the parts are sold in the country. Besides the aforementioned challenges, maintenance of aircraft is also a major challenge for airlines. Decades after aviation business commenced in Nigeria, there are no hangars in the country where major maintenance such as C and D checks are done. This has led to a situation where airlines have to fly their aircraft abroad for maintenance and this brings about capital flight, as these checks are paid for in foreign currency. The high cost of carrying out these checks is telling on all the airlines, and as a result of these, coupled with their indebtedness to agencies and other challenges in the airline business, it is difficult for them to break even. The recent global economic meltdown that ravaged global economies did not help the situation. While other airlines in other countries are already recovering from the meltdown, those in Nigeria are still trying to put together survival plans. Presently, Nigerian airlines are still trying to access the N300 billion federal government bail-out grants to the aviation industry. This is due to what the airlines describe as very stringent conditions According to the director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA], Dr .Harold Demuren, only Aero has been able to access the fund that is in the custody of the Central Bank of

Kinfe Kahsaye, CEO Air Nigeria

Nigeria (CBN). What about other airlines? Aero for example has 10 aircraft, which consists of five Boeing 737-500 series, two Boeing 737-400 series and three Bombardier Dash 8 Q300. Air Nigeria, on its part, also has 10 aircraft made up of eight B737-300 series and two Embraer E-190. Arik Air has 26 airplanes, which comprise of one A330-223 series ,two A340-500 series, two B737300 series, nine 737-700series, four B737-800, four Bombardier CRJ-900ER, two Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 and two Hawker 800. Dana Airlines has four aircraft in its fleet – all McDonnell Douglas MD -83. IRS airlines, as at April 2010, has five Fokker 100 and one Fokker 28 MK 4000, Chanchangi Airlines has two Boeings 737-300 series and Overland Airways has two ATR 42-320, three Raytheon Beech 1900D, one Saab 340A. Of these airlines, only three operate beyond the Nigerian airspace .They are Aero, which operates to Abidjan, Accra, Sao-Tome Island, Libreville and Malabo. Air Nigeria operates to Brazzaville, Accra, Douala, Dakar, Monrovia, Cotonou, Banjul, Libreville and Abidjan with further plans to extend services to more African destinations, Europe, Asia and America, while Arik Air with the largest fleet flies Accra, Banjul, Cotonou, Dakar, Freetown, Monrovia, London Heathrow [UK], Johannesburg and New York JFK [USA].

While on the domestic routes airlines in Nigeria are finding it difficult to break even, as they compete among themselves, as a result of the reasons earlier mentioned, the situation is worse on the international routes, especially the Lagos –London routes and the US route. If these airlines are struggling to survive at home as a result of high cost of aviation fuel, high aviation charges, maintenance challenges, debt and multiple entry points given to some international airlines operating into the country, such as Middle East Airlines, Afriqiyah, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and KLM, the challenges faced by the few Nigerian airlines operating international routes is better imagined. Presently, virtually all international airlines are flying into the four main international airports in Nigeria, namely, Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, from their respective hubs repatriating an industry record put at as whopping N200 billion from Nigeria in 2009. What this simply means is that domestic airlines that are acting as feeder airlines to international airlines ,with passengers from other domestic destinations, have been cut off and denied some of the revenue they would have made from the local market. The domestic airlines usually operate late

evening flights to Lagos from Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and other routes with most of the passengers meant for foreign airlines. With multiple entries becoming the order of the day, domestic operators have lost that juicy market to the European and some African carriers who have become stronger and stronger by the day, while Nigeria-registered airlines have become weaker and weaker. This has not gone down well with stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation industry, who have argued that the country is worse off if the domestic market is not protected. Speaking on the issue, former president, Nigerian Cabin Crew Association [NACCA] and head of research, Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, said that aside the huge capital flight, the foreign airlines are no longer interested in interlining with Nigerian carriers because the attraction is usually the feeding and de-feeding mechanism whereby the local airlines feed the international airlines with passengers from a hub like MMIA and also help them distribute the passengers they fly in from overseas in Nigeria. “But when the foreign airlines are already flying to virtually all the lucrative domestic routes, of what importance then is the interlining? When they find out that they are closed and they are not able to expand, it does not attract foreign investors to want to partner or ask them to come and join any of the global alliances,” he said. On the international scene, the likes of Arik Air will find it extremely difficult to compete with the likes of BA, Delta, United Airlines and other airlines to London. For Arik, brand new aircraft on a particular route is not enough to service a route or entice passengers to fly the airline. Issues such as air fare, in-flight service and timely departure are very crucial in highly competitive routes. Nigerian airlines operating international routes cannot make profit in routes where the likes of Emirates, Qatar, Lufthansa, Air France, Continental Airlines are operating with not only modern aircraft but also with cheaper airfare and customer –friendly in-flight service. Emirates, for instance, can afford to crash its fare to London and other routes, and any attempt for Arik to compete with it may result in a situation where it will fly empty. A situation where airlines delay passengers for hours on local routes in Nigeria is not tolerable for international passengers. Hence passengers’ patronage of a particular airline goes beyond acquiring modern aircraft. On how to make Nigerian carriers survive the threat posed by stronger airlines from both Africa, Europe and Middle East, Ohunayo advised the federal government to urgently start a consolidation process, adding that the last consolidation exercise was a ruse as the only beneficiary of that process is the Corporate Affairs Commission [CAC], due to the hefty taxes collected from airlines. According to him, “It is pertinent to note that barely six months after the paper consolidation process; two domestic airlines that passed the process were grounded over maintenance related issues, four other airlines have beaten the dust thereafter” “Government can also emulate the Chinese and Russian Governments by directing the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority[NCAA] to enforce and not just encourage the merging of domestic airlines or the Indonesian option, which has increased the minimum aircraft an airline can own to five from two as presently allowed by the NCAA. The process will separate the boys from the men”


16

Best Brands

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Best Brands

ABC Nigeria Celebrates 7th Anniversary On The West Coast

ABC Coach We s t A f r i c a service has essentially made it possible for the discerning traveller to cross LagosCotonou-LomeAccra borders by road and vice versa.

Frank Nneji, MD/CEO, ABC Transport PLC

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even years ago, precisely on July 16, 2004, in contributing to the economic and tourism development in the West African sub-region and in a bid to expose the potentials in this sub-region of Africa ABC Transport, known for innovations in the transport and tourism sector of the economy flagged off the Coach West Africa service. With an initial fleet of two coach and 6 scheduled trips per week, ABC Transport has since re-fleeted to cater for the teaming number of passengers who daily beseech the company for its services along this route. The demands for the service have grown tremendously as evident in the frequency of daily service operated by Coach West Africa. Today, ABC Coach West Africa has not only fulfilled the objective of offering Nigerians and non-Nigerians the special opportunity of enjoying the rich, diverse sceneries of the West Coast of Africa while in motion, but has also rekindled trade concerns and travel interests, judging from the numerous users of the service. ABC Coach West Africa service has essentially made it possible for the discerning traveller to cross LagosCotonou-Lome-Accra borders by road and vice versa. Thus, it offers a veritable avenue for persons and firms to explore coach travels as a more economic alternative to air travels. Known for its strict adherence to safety standards and laid down laws, ABC Transport runs Coach West Africa in accordance with the Nigeria Immigration laws and set standards. It is packaged for both business and leisure for the tasteful traveller who desires to discover the treasures of Africa’s West Coast. No gainsaying the fact that there are ever-emerging openings in the economies of this region; rich openings for trans-national trade and tourism. With the launch of Coach West Africa, Nigeria has reintegrated herself into the international transport community as well as re-establishing economic and cultural links across the West Africa sub-region. Over the years Coach West Africa has engendered a couple of customer-friendly schemes such as the ABC Tours that offers tourists and adventurers ample opportunity to take a break in any of the countries of Benin,

Togo and Ghana. The ABC Valentine Package is another scheme, which provides an opportunity for people to link with places, by allowing them to enjoy 50% discount on companion fare, a trip to some scenic tourist sites in Ghana, and such other accruing benefits. Lastly, the ABC Students Travel Easy is packaged as a 15% discount on fare to Nigerian students who study in any of the West African countries. At present, Coach West Africa has become a gateway for Nigerians connecting them to lucrative vistas of West Africa. It has created new windows of economic opportunities for trade and commerce, spurring a dispersion of goods, persons and services; the development of travels and

tourism in the West African region has been enhanced, and the entertainment industry has been waxed – all these are favourably made possible by Coach West Africa’s frequent passage along this sub-regional corridor. Consequently, the operation of Coach West Africa has validated the re-affirmation of ECOWAS leadership position in the integration of the subregion. Evidently, Coach West Africa has induced increased business and leisure travels, boosted trans-ECOWAS tourism, and improved social relationship at the ECOWAS level. It is equally instructive to point out that certain setbacks still permeate the route of Coach West Africa, and perhaps would swerve it off course, if

permitted to deepen. Such challenges comprise: high incidence of smuggling activities, non-commitment of some law enforcement officers to the ECOWAS goals and objectives, armtwisting and extortion, and cumbersome border protocols. The necessity for due intervention by the appropriate government institutions grows more exacting each day, more real than imagined. Resultantly, ECOWAS should be gracious enough to acknowledge the efforts of ABC Transport in breaking into the region, recognize the far-reaching scope of service provided by the company, and proffer appropriate assistance in reducing tangible bottle-necks by endorsement of Coach West Africa to various agencies.

Due to demands by various spheres of our customers occasioned by the increasing growing economic activities in the West Coast route, the company will, going forward, embark on the expansion of the route to other countries like Cote D’voire and Liberia. It is therefore imperative that the projections for the seventh anniversary will seek to harmonize the existing relationships with the various government agencies at the borders to facilitate easy and timely passage and to also revalidate the trust, confidence and goodwill the company has enjoyed over the years as a truly African enterprise.


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Okwahu Paragliding Festival 2011 Was Fun

Kwame Debrah debraconsulting@ gmail.com

Paragliding is a sport of assisted human flight with a paraglider which is a motorless inflatable wing made of nylon. It is operated by a pilot who launches it by foot, running off inclines, hills or mountains. As he runs, the wings suck in air and he /she is in flight. The function of a paraglide is to soar on wind currents. A pilot may take along a passenger or two as in the photographs. The world record for being airborne is over eleven hours and the distance record is 186 miles [300km] In Ghana, the longest flying time is over 5 hours. According to one of the pilots, the joy of flying in the equatorial atmosphere is a unique experience. The Atibie part of the Kwahu Mountain offers a splendid landscape for paragliding hence the choice of that location for paragliding in Ghana, but it is the timing for the sport is which makes it a massive celebration. At Easter weekends, many people from across Ghana and elsewhere throng to Atibie Kwahu for massive partying, so having the paragliding event along side makes it double celebration. The paragliding event has also given an international dimension to the Okwahu Easter feast as we have been having patrons from across the world participating fully.

This year, I personally interacted with some Nigerians, South Africans, an Australian, some Togolese, Ivorians and some Britons who came all the way just to paraglide in the Ghanaian sky. Yes, there were some Indians and Lebanese as well.The South Africans promised to return every year. I congratulate the Indian and Lebanese communities in Ghana for showing up massively at Kwahu. Paragliding has indeed been catching up with many Ghanaians who also take to flights during the festival. Patronage has also not been limited to a particular age group as the young and the old partake. See the young lady in the photograph, she is Ama from Cape Coast, she was 9 years old at the time she took two flights on a day, and her sister who was 11 years was also airborne. This year, the deputy minister of tourism, Mr. Agyenim Boateng took a flight and his flight generated a lot of excitement. I also recall the late Kojo BaahWiredu, who also boldly took a flight during one of the past events. If you have never been part of this event, then start preparing as you won’t have an alternative anywhere nearby. Next year would soon be with us, its time to start saving for the 2012 event. My memories of the past paragliding festivals have

always been sweet, the multitudes of people, and then over flowing streams of brands of beers, and then palmwine, and then Akpeteshie, and then food, and then the ubiquitous music and dance sessions; the unending jubilant noise……. Oh!, and the unending vehicular traffic of latest automobiles. Okwahu paragliding festival 2011 was very successful as the number of visitors was overwhelming. The ministry of tourism is even contemplating increasing the number of times the event is held from just once in a year to maybe two or may be more. To me the best thing about Okwhu Easter is that I have missed it only once and each of the times I have been there, I had come across old friends, I had never set eyes on for decades after school. So that school friend you have not seen for centuries, that is where you find them, they just appear from nowhere. And who knows that secondary school date “laimomo” may show up too. But get cautious. A lot of guys get laid there. If you are tempted, remember that HIV / AIDS is still on the loose everywhere, take care. See you there 2012 Easter,

...Panafest 2011 Is Here

PANAFEST consciously allows for these sites to be used to confront the effects of enslavement, purging the pain of the Diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of the trade on the continent... temporary global environment,”

The Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival [PANAFEST] is an event dedicated to the African dance, music and other performing arts. PANAFEST is a cultural event that aims and endeavours towards the enhancement of the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the development of the African continent. It is observed every two years to celebrate the people of African descent as well as all persons committed to the well being of Africans on the continent and in the global arena. PANAFEST 2011 started from July 23 and would last for two weeks. The celebration is under the theme:“ReUniting the African Family: Challenges and Prospects.” According to the minister of tourism, Hon. Akua Sena Dansua, PANAFEST 2011 would re-examine the role of the Great African ancestors, their pioneering spirit of promoting Pan African liberation and unity as well as valiant contemporary efforts to innovate individuals, communities and countries to bring into being an alternative world. “PANAFEST consciously allows for these sites to be used to confront the effects of enslavement, purging the pain of the Diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of the trade on the continent and re-uniting all affected people so as to forge a positive future in the contemporary global environment,”Ms Dansua added In the proceedings of PANAFEST, various conferences on African arts, history and international relationships, acts on theatre, drama, music, poetry and other verticals are organized. These events not only keep the

visitors engaged, but also serve the academic purpose of educating the world about the African bequests. Among other things, one of the best events is the candlelit Emancipation Vigil known as the reverential night which honours African slaves. Activities planned for the event include wreath laying ceremonies, international concert, grand durbar of chiefs and people of Cape Coast, visits to historical sites in Cape Coast and Elmina, the symbolic crossing of the River Pra, a Redemption March, and a Reverential Night. The essential thrust of PANAFEST is to enhance development. The festival provides a forum to promote unity between Africans on the Continent and in the Diaspora, and affirms the common heritage of African peoples the world over by defining and promoting Africa’s contribution to world civilization. PANAFEST attracts a diverse assembly of people ranging from political leaders, eminent personalities and intellectuals - to business concerns, investors and tourists. Central to the celebration are major international performing and visual artists from across Africa and the Diaspora. PANAFEST has always been a unique event which touches on ones emotion deeply. Critical events of every PANAFEST are the two days conference / colloquium which is a purely an academic event but charged with emotionally and very inspiring speeches delivered by politicians, traditional rulers, Pan Africanists, and intellectuals. There is also the reverential night to pay tribute to

ancestors who suffered from the slave trade. This is a solemn event which occurs in the night and characterized by candle lit processions though the streets of Cape Coast which ends in front of the Cape Coast Castle where people converge after the procession to pay tribute to our ancestors. Emancipation Day usually climaxes PANAFEST with a mammoth durbar of chiefs and people from all walks of life. PANAFEST is not a boring festival as everyday of the event closes with an international live band concert. There are also exhibitions of African art and craft and other products made on the continent. It is an event worth participating as it definitely ignites your consciousness as a being. This year, there will also be the symbolic crossing of the River Pra to simbolise the return of the former slaves back to the homeland and wreath laying ceremonies in memory of slaves who died during the period of slavery. There are a host of tourist attractions to be visited in and around Cape Coast. The Cape Coast and Elmina slave Castles, Kakum National Park, the Slave River at Assin Manso, Brenu Akyinim Beach and more. Hotels and Guest Houses abound in Cape Coast and Elmina so accommodation must not be a problem. The Pan African HistoricalTheatre Project PANAFEST] was mooted by the late Mrs Efua Sutherland in the mid 1980s as a cultural vehicle for bringing together Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora around issues of slavery, which remained suppressed. PANAFEST has been celebrated since 1994

Travel Times August Edition, 2011



August 2011