• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Destination West Africa Project unfolds, set for first expedition

Destination West Africa Project unfolds, set for first expedition

Destination West Africa Project (DWAP), an initiative devoted to promoting intra-travel, business and trade within the West Africa region, by Goge Africa and partners, was launched last week, with sight on its inaugurate expedition few weeks ahead.

The event held at the Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC), and was graced by tourism operators and service providers as well as the diplomatic community. It is designed to commemorate this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD), with the theme; Rethinking Tourism.

The launch was heralded by a number of entertaining activities, including performances by the Lagos State troupe and tour of the LCC.

The talk shop at the event saw George Uriesi, CEO, Ibom Air, speaking on the theme; Travel and Tourism in the Sub-Region: Prospects and Challenges. He spoke extensively on travel within the region, highlighting some of the challenges and prospects, especially with regard to air connectivity, fare and competition, noting that; ‘‘the more we can get more airlines to operate in the region the better for us.’’

This was followed by a roundtable discussion by a number of operators and members of the diplomatic corps on how to develop the region’s tourism business.

Wanle Akinboboye, founder/president, La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, in his remark spoke on the vast resources of Africa, which, according to him, is the second largest continent in the world and the wealthiest, lamenting that it has no business being poor.

Akinboboye commended Goge Africa and its partners, stressing that; ‘‘We need to come together to process our resources. The only way you can have an advantage is when you take advantage of your advantage and the only advantage that we have today is the advantage of culture, arts, music and dance.’’

He called for travel loans to be provided for people that travel within West Africa.

‘‘Let’s make it easy, let’s make it possible, we are beginning a journey that can help all of us to reach greater heights. Those of us that can do it, let’s begin to do it and stop blaming others or those who are not doing it,’’ he admonished.

Read also: WTD 2022: FTAN tasks government on tourism funding, investment

While Prince Yemisi Shyllon, an arts connoisseur and patron, canvassed for a private sector-led development, noting that; ‘‘I don’t believe that government will do much, however, we hope that government will give us the enabling environment and provide leadership to eliminate some of the problems that we have in terms of travels.’’

He narrated how easy it was years back travelling within the region and continent, especially by road, as he once travelled by road from Lagos to Yamoussoukro, Cote D’ Ivoire. But attempting that now, he said is near impossible as it is fraught with a lot of dangers and bureaucracies.

‘‘But I dare anybody to try it. The bureaucracy is terrible,’’ he noted, as he applauded Goge Africa for what they are doing now. To succeed in this new venture, he said Africans need cultural re-orientation, stating that; ‘‘We have a problem of culture, our believe in our culture is very low, we have to have a festival map or calendar of festivals in West Africa, it is important.

‘‘It is not just the cost of travelling that is making people to travel abroad but it is because we don’t believe in ourselves and we have to believe in ourselves and travel more within our regions.

‘‘I commend Wanle Akinboboye for what he has done within Lagos and Goge Africa for this initiative.’’

From the diplomatic community, Ghanaian Consulate General, Ambassador Samata Gifty Bukari, stressed the importance of travelling within the region and continent while noting that tourist attractions have to be mapped out and children introduced to tourism at early stages through school excursions.

‘‘I feel greatly delighted by this initiative because tourism is income generating for all Africa countries. We have left what we have and gone to the West. But now we have to make Africa our own because there are lots of tourist attractions in Africa’’, the envoy said.

To get ahead, she called for partnership with ECOWAS, AU, and AfCFT. ‘‘Let’s try to make the best of tourism in Africa. We should begin with regional tourism and with schools where we have to organise tours for our children,’’ she noted.

Also in attendance were envoys from The Gambia, Benin Republic, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire and Liberia.

Nneka Isaac-Moses, chief CEO, Goge Africa, called on the various regional governments, well-meaning organisations in the region and ECOWAS Commission to lend their support to the project so as to prepare West Africa for continental travel, trade and integration.