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    Alternatives to Foreign Travel, Tourism

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    Alternatives to Foreign Travel, Tourism

    Nigerians spend huge resources to travel to different parts of the world on holidays, repatriating millions on foreign exchange out of Nigeria, but there lie beautiful tourism destinations in West Africa where Nigerians and others can have a quiet time in an ambiance close to nature, writes Chinedu Eze who was part of the media team that accompanied tour operators to travel by road to attend Accra Weizo, a travel expo in Ghana

    Tourism experts are of the view that if Nigerians can spend a quarter of what they spend in Dubai in West Africa, patronising the beautiful resorts, hotels and enchanted natural destinations, many lives in the sub-region would be empowered. Records indicate that in 2023 Nigerians spent about $2 billion in Dubai tourism, including investments in real estate.

    Brooking through the barriers of race, West Africans travel to Europe and America to spend their money, where they are made to answer many questions in public places, they leave the paradise located in many places in West Africa to spend their money amidst suspicious glare of hostile security operatives.

    One of such beautiful havens in West Africa is Royal Senchi Resort Hotel, a beautiful resort located at Akosombo, Ghana. Royal Senchi is idyllic, carved out of the undulating hills of Akosombo with a lake, cruise boats and woods. The resort is breathtaking. It is a reality of what was captured in romantic poems of the past. Why go to the Caribbean for honeymoon when Royal Senchi, a paradise in West Africa can be accessed by road.

    High Cost of Fares

    Since after COVID-19, air travel has become costly, made worse by the trapped funds, which aggravated the avarice of foreign airlines operating in Nigeria. The depreciation of the naira, the lack of confidence in the volatile economy, has made air travel a very costly venture. The cost of air travel has reduced passenger traffic both in domestic and international travel.

    This is why at the 7th Accra Weizo, a travel expo in West Africa, tour operators decided to travel from Nigeria to Ghana by road to see how seamless moving through the countries in the sub-region could be. Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) conceived the sub-region as a domestic market. But each country in West Africa is yet to embrace that ideal conception. So, they made road travel cumbersome at the borders.

    But travelling by road revealed the beauty of West Africa: many hospitality facilities dot the edges of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. Royal Senchi Resort Hotel could be a revelation to those who are yet to know about the beauty of man’s imagination and nature.

    Barriers to Seamless Travel

    Akonitv spoke to the Executive Director, Royal Senchi Resort, Akosombo, Ghana, Mr. Nana Kwame Yeboah-Afari, who gave insight to the barriers to seamless travel in West Africa and the need to promote trade and closer interaction among the people of the sub-region.

    Speaking about the resort, Yeboah-Afari said maintaining such inimitable facility would need a lot of commitment and money.

    “First, it costs money to keep up the facilities at the resort; proper maintenance of 35 acres of land is not a joke, but we will continue to do this and I want to appeal to you to help us through your various platforms to enhance the marketing of our products,” he said.

    Talking about inhibition to trade and interaction in West Africa, the Managing Director recalled the recent observation made by the Nigerian billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote, about how tough it is to move around in Africa.

    “Just recently, Alhaji Aliko Dangote complained about the challenges of flying within Africa. The fact remains that he is not alone in this challenge. Visa issue on the continent is a major constraint and the crisis at the border also calls for concerns. This is not good enough for Africa if we want to promote tourism. I have had a lot of experiences going through various borders like Togo, Cote D’Ivoire and others. What I can say is that it is not pleasant. If you have money to throw around, you go through the borders easily, but for day-to-day people, it’s very difficult to navigate this,” he said.

    Yeboah-Afari observed that it is always good to see collaboration within Africa “and I say this with a lot of passion because too often, we see a lot of competition among us when we should have collaborated and made our products bigger.”

    “If we collaborate, it would still be enough for everybody. It is in our collective interest to put together our resources to be able to host large meetings.But, sometimes, we see ourselves as competitors to the extent that we don’t want to share anything at all. There are a lot of things that we can do together; we can do cross training, menus, bushmeat and others just to keep the interest going. The Southern African countries collaborate very well and they don’t see themselves as competitors,” he said.

    Visitors

    About the visit to the beautiful report by guests, he disclosed that about 80 per cent of the people who patronize the resort are Africans.

    “Presently, we have about 80 per cent of Africans patronising our resort. About 60 per cent of that 80 per cent are Ghanaians, 40 per cent are other African countries and I would say that 80 per cent of that 40 per cent are Nigerians. In recent times, we have had a lot of visitors from Togo as well, especially their corporate organisations do come here for different activities,” Yeboah-Afari said.

    On partnership with airlines and tour operators, he said, “The fact remains that you cannot do this kind of a business without partnering with others. So, we have relationships especially with many of the travel and tours companies in Ghana. The truth is, you have to first and foremost start your relationship from home. The next place we are doing this is Nigeria. You cannot do anything on this continent without the involvement of Nigeria.

    “On airlines’ collaboration, not much has been done because the airlines are often interested in cities, but in terms of presence on the airlines, talking about inflight magazines, internal marketing with the airlines, we do that regularly. We also did the same with Arik Air until the airline stopped flying to Ghana. The biggest airline out of Nigeria to Ghana now is Air Peace. We will need to collaborate with the airline as well,” the Managing Director added.

    The management of Royal Senchi Hotel Resort spoke about waste management and how eco-friendly the facility is, which makes it a top-notch destination in West Africa.

    Managing waste and maintaining echo-friendly nature of the resort is a very challenging thing, but we have managed to work around it. Just imagine about 150-200 toilets flushing at the same time; it is a big issue. So, what we have designed is that everything comes to the treatment plant and it becomes liquid and passes through our irrigation system to irrigate the 35 acres that we have here.

    “We also have the technology for water treatment and this is highly efficient and also eco-friendly. The water is taken from the lake here and it runs through the system. Also, for the water hitting equipment, we have a gas that is used to hit the water, while the backup is solar energy. We ensure that if you open your taps and you need hot water, within 10 to 15 seconds, you will have what you want. It’s all about solar and gas. We also have a solar farm here, which provides about 10 per cent of energy here,” he said.

    Cost of Doing Business

    The Managing Director also spoke on the cost of doing business in Ghana, which also applies to Nigeria.

    “The fact is that doing business in Ghana, the costs of operations are so high unlike in other places. We import poultry products from Brazil, dairy products from Holland and other places; rice is also imported from Nigeria. That is a tragedy as far as I am concerned because if you go across this place, all the lands here are good for planting rice.

    “We are always challenged on so many fronts. If we compare ourselves to people from Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa or Botswana and other places like that, their cost of operation is low. They can afford to charge some rates, but we cannot do that here.When we first started about a decade ago, our ultimate plan was to have a group of Senchi all over West Africa, but 10 years on, I don’t think the plan is still on; unless things change drastically. Some of these products are what we can do if we have the will, which is lacking at the moment,” he said.

    On effective security and preventing the circulation of drugs and other illicit substances, Yeboah-Afari explained that has effective security management system in place to prevent such bad occurrences, “but you can understand that there is a limit you can go about this because these are being carried out by your own guests who bring in a lot of people and substances. As much as possible, it is not a problem here because we always do the needful when such arises. I don’t see it as a major issue like we have in Accra and other places.

    The team for the Accra Weizo, on June 28, 2024, cruised in the lake and beheld the beauty of Royal Senchi Resort Hotel, which is the beauty that dwells in Africa, at Akosombo, Ghana.

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    Medical tourism abroad CMD tasks wealthy Nigerians to support healthcare delivery

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    Medical tourism abroad CMD tasks wealthy Nigerians to support healthcare delivery

    The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Ilorin, Kwara State, Professor Yussuf Abdullah Dasliva, at the weekend called on the wealthy individuals in the country to continue to support the government at all levels in the efforts to improve healthcare delivery for the populace.

    Dasliva however said that, such support would also reduce medical tourism overseas in the country.

    Speaking in Ilorin during the official commissioning of multi billion naira the Batuli Ajiferuke Shagaya Burn Intensive Care Unit (BAS-BICU) building in the UITH, Prof. Yusuf, stated that, apart from this, it would also boost the quality of healthcare delivery in the country.

    The facility was donated by Alhaji Sheriff Shagaya and he is the son of the wealthy woman, Alhaja Muina Shagaya.

    He said that, “Let me reiterate that we should endeavour to delineate donations from Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP).

    “Donations are usually made to support various government activities/functions in order to improve/expand services to the citizenry/humanity without any anticipatory accruals (personal/groups).

    “Whereas, PPP are aimed at accruals to parties involved, and are usually not done by fiats but through laid down rules/due processes.

    “Thus, once donations are made to Government/Government establishments, such donations automatically become the responsibilities of government/its establishments to manage, in accordance with the intended purposes, without any individual/group of individuals wanting to take control of such donations or sharing the accruals; nor constituting any Board of Trustee (BOT) for government properties. Such acts are absolutely illegal and should not be contemplated”.

    The CMD appreciated the donor, saying that the project would ensure provision of quality health care and attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to the populace.

    The CMD, who solicited more donations (in whatever forms) to UITH, llorin, added that such donations would enable the hospital (with its abundant expertise) to continually improve and expand its quality healthcare provisions; and further contribute to reducing the tides of the increasing medical tourism overseas.

    Earlier, the donor, Alhaji Shagaya said that, though, healthcare is a basic human right, but it is far from being equally accessible to all.

    Alhaji Shagaya, thus, called on Nigerians to bridge gap in health care provisions and provide quality healthcare to those who need it most, since governments cannot shoulder the responsibility alone.

    “This project is not just a token of our love for philanthropy, but a reflection of our recognition that we all have a part to play in strengthening our society.

    “Healthcare is a basic human right, yet it is far from being equally accessible to all. The onus is on us, as responsible citizens, to bridge this gap and provide quality healthcare to those who need it most.

    “While our government is doing its best, they cannot shoulder this responsibility alone. It is our duty as fellow human beings to lend a helping hand”, he said.

    The donor, who said that he lost his grandmother, Batuli Ajiferuke Shagaya, to burns, added that the death inspired him to spearhead the project.

    “The pain of losing my grandmother, a loss I still carry with me to this day, is inseparable from the hope that we can save others from a similar fate.

    “It is a project that would have filled my grandmother with pride had she been here today.

    “The Batuli Ajiferuke Shagaya Burn Intensive Care Unit (BAS-BICU) building in UITH, Ilorin marks a significant milestone in the healthcare sector, particularly in the management of acute burns.

    “The new intensive care unit aimed to meet the objective of limiting the systemic insult that accompanies burn injuries, it also aimed at providing a higher level of specialized care to patients suffering from burns.

    “It will also play a crucial role in preventing infections related to invasive procedures and improving the overall care and treatment of burn patients.

    “The BAS-BICU will serve as a beacon of hope for those who have been afflicted with severe burns, offering a higher level of care that will not only improve treatment outcomes but also help prevent devastating infections and improve the overall quality of life for those who require such specialized care”, he said.

    Shagaya said that, “the over N250million Burn Center is unmatched in the North Central region, adding that, the state-of-the-art facilities therein, “are to serve the needs of our community, to save lives, and to promote healing and recovery

    The equipment you see before you will serve as tools in the hands of skilled professionals, transforming the treatment of burn patients in our country”.

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    ‘I’m Not Interested,’ Ndume Rejects Appointment As Senate Tourism Committee Chair

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    ‘I’m Not Interested,’ Ndume Rejects Appointment As Senate Tourism Committee Chair

    The Senator representing Borno South Ali Ndume has rejected the chairmanship of the Committee on Tourism in the upper lawmaking body.

    Ndume was sacked as the senate chief whip over comments he made criticising President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s running of the country.

    He was subsequently picked as the chairman of the Senate Community on Tourism, a move the vocal lawmaker has turned down.

    “So, I’m not interested in accepting the committee on tourism for the two reasons I told you,” the Borno South lawmaker said in his Maiduguri hometown, 48 hours after he was sacked as the chief whip.

    “I told you I’m inexperienced in that. I don’t know anything, I’m not knowledgeable about tourism. So, I would, if any, prefer to remain as an ordinary member so that I can learn about tourism.”
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    ‘Act of God’

    He likened his removal to an act of God.

    “Secondly, the party that recommended to the Senate that I should be removed from being the chief whip of the Senate, I take that as an act of God because if it is God who gave me that position. It is God that took it through APC. So, I bear no grudges about that,” he said.

    “After all, I did not contest to be the chief whip. I did not contest to be the vice chairman of the appropriation committee. I contested to be the se one of the Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and God granted me that victory and I’m happy with God, what God has given to me.”

    ‘I’m Not Wrong’

    He also defended his comments, saying there was nothing wrong with them.

    “I did not say anything wrong. And therefore I want to state that I stand by all my statements in the interview I granted,” the senator insisted.

    “So, I know that I’m not wrong. The people are not wrong by speaking the truth and standing by the truth,” the 64-year-old.

    “And I pray that the president who by now, I expect the message should have gotten to him, looks at what I have said and takes appropriate measures to eliminate the suffering of the people.”

    Following his sack, there were calls for his resignation as a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

    But Ndume said the decision to quit the APC requires consultations.

    “So, I’m not a new member. I didn’t join APC just like that. It was in consultation with my people that I joined APC. I take his advice and I will get, I know across to my people,” the lawmaker said.

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    Governor’s wife showcases Kwara’s tourism wealth

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    The wife of Kwara Governor, Olufolake Abdulrasaq, on Thursday, urged local and international tourists to explore the tourism potential in the state.

    Mrs Abdulrazaq made the call in Ilorin at the ongoing annual general meeting (AGM) and conference of the National Association of Nigeria Tour Operators (NATOP).

    The AGM has its theme as “Tourism as Catalyst for Progress, Peace and Partnership”.

    “Kwara, with its vantage in the North-central region, is endowed with immense and captivating tourist destinations, widely referred to as ‘a wonder in the wilderness’.

    “The Owu Falls is the highest and most spectacular natural waterfall in West Africa.

    “Founded in 1945 and widely referenced as the mother of all museums in Nigeria, the Esie Museum is located in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.

    “We have Imole Boja Rock Shelter; we also have the Sobi Hills, the University of Ilorin Zoological Garden, the Dada Pottery, and the Aso-oke weaving centres, among other very interesting sites.

    “In celebrating our culture and traditions, we equally have the annual Ilorin Durbar, the Gani Festival, the Shao Mass Wedding and the Patigi Boat Regatta, to mention a few,” she said.

    Mrs Abdulrazaq, who commended the tour operators for bringing their annual conference to the state, urged them to explore the spots mentioned and further promote the economic potential of the state.

    She said Kwara’s rich historical background, wonders of nature and exquisite cultural events are sights to behold.

    She said Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrasaq was leaving no stone unturned to ensure that opportunities in the tourism sector in the state were maximised.

    According to her, this is evident in the government’s engagements in partnerships, evolving investment-friendly policies and putting in place infrastructure to drive all sectors of the state’s economy.

    “In complementing this drive of government, my office and the Ajike People Support Centre are actively involved in promoting tourism and celebrating the cultural heritage of our people.

    “It may interest you to know that during our host of the Commonwealth quiz competition, top functionaries of the British government were conducted around some of these beautiful sites.

    “Also, I have sponsored some of our traditional aso-oke weavers to participate in fashion shows of international repute to showcaseenhanceate and enhancing their capacities,” she said.

    Akonitv reports that the conference began on 17 July and will end on 20 July.

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