BusinessDay

Travellers Awards unveils top tourism promoters in Nigeria in 2021

Organisers of Travellers Awards have announced the winners of the Tourism Awards for the 2021 edition.

These are the people and events that kept tourism bubbling in Nigeria in 2021.

Without these great people, nothing much would have happened on the tourism landscape since the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdowns in Nigeria.

The list was compiled based on tourism activities in 2021 that can be verified.

The awards were presented on March 11, 2022, at the Abuja Jabamah Wonders of Nigeria Expo. Travellers Award was instituted in 1996 by the publishers of Travellers Magazine and Atqnews.com with the theme “Promoting Excellence in Travels”.

The top 5 travellers of 2021 include; Bolaji Seun, Mariam Iyiola, Kingsley Nwachukwu, Cordis Marianuela Umeokoli and Ibrahim Makanjuola.

The Tourism Communicator of the Year went to Andrew Okungbowa of New Telegraph, Diamond and Pearls Tours won Tour Operator of the Year (Outbound), Wakanow emerged Travel Agency of the Year, while Prof. Babalola Wasiu Adeyemo-Sultan won Hotel Man of the Year.

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In other categories, Farida Sagaya AngelStyle Tours emerged Tourism Supporter of the Year, Ogbunike Carnival was recognised as Carnival of the Year, Danny Kioupouroglou, general manager of Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, won Hotel Manager of the Year, while Hotel of the Year 2021 went to Lagos Marriott Hotel ikeja.

In the Tourism Promoters of the Year category, the Oguntoye twins with their Oguntoye Kehinde Oladele Igbo Ora Twin Festival, Cecile Mambo Doumbe with her Cee Mambo, Abuja Food Tour and Balogun Olamilekan and the Way of Wonders for Amala Hangout events, among others emerged winners.

The organisers had earlier announced some winners of the awards.

NAFEST, the annual cultural festival and events packaged by the Olusegun Runsewe-led Nigerian Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC) has been selected by tourism professionals as the Best Tourism event in Nigeria and the development, NAFEST displaced Carnival Calabar, which has won the award in the last five years.

NAFEST was held in Ekiti State and attracted over 30 states that showcased their cultural and creative products. Tour operators had familiarisation visits to Ekiti linking NAFEST to the tourism circuits in Nigeria.

Sterling Bank was unanimously chosen as the Most Tourism Friendly Bank of the Year. Since the bank showed its intention to participate in the tourism space in Nigeria it has not relented. Partnering with Lagos State to launch the Lagos Tourism Masterplan was its first major move. It hosted the World Tourism Day with the world famous Nike Art Gallery in Lagos. It has also partnered with FAAN to provide Wifi at Lagos International Airport. It has introduced loans for tour operators to source for tour buses. No bank has engaged the tourism community like Sterling Bank.

Also, four personality awards for the year 2021 were released. The awards were selected by the elite members of the tourism community and approved by the publishers of Atqnews.com and Travellers Magazine.

Pharmacist Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, the Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism, was chosen by members of the Tourism 100 Club and the publishers of Travellers Magazine as the Best Tourism Commissioner in Nigeria in 2021. The Lagos Commissioner had engaged stakeholders and initiated training for tour operators and creatives based in Lagos. Lagos State has become the benchmark for most states in tourism development. The state launched its Tourism Masterplan in 2021 that is an unprecedented feat by any state in Nigeria. She initiated the Community Based Tourism (CBT) projects in the five divisions of Lagos. It also launched a Trust Fund that provides loans and grants to tourism practitioners based in Lagos.

Chief Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace, was chosen as the Travel Personality of the Year 2021 due to his consistent performance in aviation business. His airline is the first airline to bring a brand new commercial passenger plane to Nigeria, since Arik Air and Virgin Nigeria more than 10 years ago; as five brand new Embraer E195 E2 aircraft were received by Air Peace for operations in Nigeria.

His airline had been evacuating stranded Nigerians in many countries and became the official carrier of the Super Eagles. In 2021 he became the positive force for aviation and travel business in Nigeria. His pan Nigeria messages endeared him to Nigerians as a unifying leader. No wonder Nigerians rallied to support him in the impasse with the UAE.

The Tourism CEO of the Year 2021 is Turaki Nura Kangiwa, director general of NIHOTOUR. He was a breath of fresh air in the tourism arena in 2021 with events and training all over the country. He pushed the hand of government effectively in 2021. He identified the absence of government in the private sector environment. He partnered with tourism associations, set up the Sector Skill Council, opened up new campuses of the tourism training institute and anchored the World Tourism Day 2021. The WTD restored the role of government in the international event initiated by Ignatius Atigbi, a Nigerian chief.

The Tourism Man of the Year went to Nkereuwem Onung, president of FTAN. His election as the FTAN president was a unifying tonic needed by the tourism community ridden with dichotomy and in fighting. His election was almost unanimous as all the leading tourism associations backed him. He has since set out inaugurating zonal chapters and encouraging strong member associations. His mantra of “Strong Associations make Strong Federation” seems to resonate with members. He has brought together a team that promises to lift tourism a notch higher this year.