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    Medical Tourism Key Attraction of 19th Akwaaba African Travel Market

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    Akwaaba African Travel Market is a success story in tourism and air travel in Nigeria, as it has grown to become one of the few events in the travel and tourism sector that attracts international participants, year-on-year with strong local loyalty.

    Akwaaba has built enviable goodwill in the continent that awards from the events are highly priced and open doors for the recipients within and outside Africa.

    The opening day of the 19th Akwaaba African Travel Market, which was held at Eko Hotel and Suits from September 3-5, 2023 could simply be tagged Cross River day because Cross River State, known as a state reputed for tourism in Nigeria, dominated the opening day. Of course, the event was opened by the Governor of Cross River state, Senator Bassey Otu and the state brought inimitable colour to the event with memorable displays by the Cross River dance troupe. The fanfare and razzmatazz that attended the opening ceremony were memorable excitement to all who attended the event.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 19th Akwaaba, the governor said: “Today, we are here to witness another theme unveiling, which stands our carnival out as an intellectual platform to entertain, educate, and inform our publics and audiences. Carnival Calabar, Africa’s Biggest Street Party has always led the cultural interface and ties with other such great cultural and artistic brands that have evolved distinct identities as Nigeria’s best foot forward in cultural diplomacy and at the same time acting as the pull factor to bring tourists to Cross River State and Nigeria every year. Also, understand that for the second year, the Medical Tourism platform is being activated with a strong partnership with the Turkish group.”

    So, Akwaaba has become a bold signature to Tourism in Africa and as travel is said to buoy tourism globally, the travel industry was not left out but the new niche that is making its mark in Africa is medical tourism.

    It is well known that many Nigerians who travel abroad go for medical checkups and treatment of ailments. Now, the tourism industry is giving medical treatment and ambience of pleasure and adventure to diminish the seriousness imbedded in medical treatment and health service.

    Medical tourism is described as people traveling abroad to obtain medical treatment. Countries, including African nations have established state of the art hospitals with special attention to cater for foreigners who may come for medical service but are also made to sightsee tourism destinations and bask in the euphoria of entertainment and pleasure.

    The third day of Akwaaba was dedicated to medical tourism. A group of Turkish Hospitals, which comprised Medipol Global, Serena Group, Govn Health Group, Turquaz Health, Health Ankara, and Medical Park Group, all in Turkey, pledged to collaborate with Nigerian medical institutions in the country to enhance the medical sector and also meet the medical needs of the citizens.

    “We are ready to cooperation in this manner. We will like to establish a bridge with Nigeria and Turkey. We are ready to provide healthcare service to African countries, starting from Nigeria,” the Turkish medical group stated.

    Also, a delegation of medical experts from Ghana at the Akwaaba meeting highlighted key advantages of medical tourism. In a press statement, the Ghanaian delegation led by Dr. Kobby Appiah- Sayki, President of the African Medical Tourism Council (AMTC) and CEO of Britannia Medical Centre, presented the four core reasons why Ghana stands as a premier destination for medical tourism. Appiah-Sayki explained why Ghana is a destination for medical tourism, which include highly qualified local and internationally trained doctors.

    Appiah-Sayki said: “There is good value for money. Ghana’s medical services offer exceptional value for money. Patients seeking high-quality healthcare can benefit from competitive pricing without compromising on the quality of care received. The AMTC acts as a regulatory body and it also advocates for patients.”

    Appiah-Sayki emphasised that the African Medical Tourism Council plays a crucial role as a regulatory body, ensuring the highest standards of care for patients. AMTC also advocates for patients’ rights and ensures a transparent and ethical medical tourism environment.

    The delegation also said that it was committed to removing all barriers to medical tourism. This includes overcoming challenges related to distance, travel, accommodation, and navigating the healthcare system.

    “Ghana welcomes medical tourists with open arms and strives to make their journey as seamless as possible,” Appiah-Sayki further said.

    Appiah-Sayki also highlighted the African Medical Tourism Council (AMTC) as the driving force behind a transformative journey that offers cutting-edge healthcare with the rich cultural tapestry of Africa. The Council consists of major hospitals in Ghana, including the International Maritime Hospital (IMaH), the Bank Hospital, the University of Ghana Medical Centre Ltd (UGMC) LuccaHealth, Britannia Medical Health Center Jubail Specialist Hospital and the Bethel Dental Clinic.

    Ikechi Uko, the organiser and convener of the Akwaaba Africa Travel and Tourism Market in his key speech at the event, noted that Nigeria has not made strategic plan on the continuity of the travel industry to the future, observing that there is lack of young persons groomed to lead Nigeria’s travel industry in the next generation and encouraged major players in the sector to mentor people to guarantee a future of strong travel industry in Nigeria.

    He also encouraged the players in the tourism industry to invest in educational and medical tourism, saying that it is the future of tourism in Nigeria.

    “For a lot of countries in Africa, I asked them, please can you nominate two or three people in your country that you think are pioneers, inspirational. We gave them the terms and the conditions and our criteria. Unfortunately, most countries couldn’t nominate one person. I didn’t just ask one person, I asked like 10. And why is it that there is nobody here? ‘Oh, the young ones, I don’t think they deserve it, I don’t think they’re good enough, they’re not detailed’, everybody has complaints,” he said.

    Over 30 exhibitors are present at this event, displaying different aspects of the tourism, medical, and hospitality industry.

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    Minister Leads Nigeria’s Delegation To 121st UN Tourism Executive Council

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    Nigeria has joined 11 other elected African member countries to participate at the 121st session of the United Nations Tourism Executive Council held in Barcelona, Spain.

    According to the Ministry of Tourism statement, the country was represented by the Minister, Lola Ade-John, as the event further ‘reinforces Nigeria’s commitment to advancing global tourism.’

    The Council, which meets biannually, serves as the governing body of UN Tourism. In collaboration with the Secretary-General, the Council is responsible for making pivotal decisions on various aspects of the organization and its initiatives, which are subsequently presented to the General Assembly for ratification.

    The ministry further disclosed that Nigeria’s presence in the Executive Council ‘highlights the nation’s growing influence and dedication to promoting tourism as a key driver of economic growth, cultural exchange, and sustainable development.’

    Remarking, the minister, Lola Ade-John, expressed her gratitude for Nigeria’s role in the Council and reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to contributing to the global tourism agenda.
    “Our participation in the UN Tourism Executive Council is a testament to Nigeria’s vibrant tourism sector and our dedication to fostering international cooperation in tourism. We look forward to working closely with other member states to promote sustainable tourism practices that benefit all,” she said.

    The Nigerian minister further emphasized the country’s ongoing initiatives to enhance its tourism infrastructure, improve visitor experiences, and protect its cultural and natural heritage. Nigeria’s active participation in the UN Tourism Executive Council will further these efforts, providing valuable opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange with other leading nations in the tourism sector.

    Continuing, the minister stressed that as the country ’embarks on this new chapter within UN Tourism, it remains committed to leveraging its rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and hospitality to attract tourists from around the world, contributing to the global tourism industry’s growth and sustainability.’

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    Air Passengers Experience Luxury As AltClub Opens At Muritala Muhammed Airport, Lagos

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    With the opening of Altclub by The Alternative Bank, passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2) can now experience an enhanced degree of luxury and convenience.

    The cutting-edge premium area meets customers’ basic banking needs while providing an opulent haven for them to unwind and rejuvenate before their flights.

    The Alternative Bank claims that Altclub, a division of Alttravel, a digital travel finance product, was created to improve Nigerians’ ease of access to and convenience from travel.

    With its “Travel Now, Pay Later” model, Alttravel offers the greatest amount of freedom and does away with the requirement for advance payments.

    At the opening event, Mohammed Yunusa, Director of Digital Business and Innovations at The Alternative Bank, emphasised the importance of Altclub.

    “Altclub isn’t just a lounge; it’s a sanctuary of comfort and convenience. Gone are the days of sacrificing relaxation for travel formalities. Our lounge offers a luxurious space where travellers can unwind and rejuvenate before their flights, free from the typical travel stress,” Yunusa said.

    The national brand news further discloses that apart from providing a peaceful setting for unwinding, Altclub offers several facilities to meet the requirements of tourists, such as refreshments, fast Wi-Fi, and electrical outlets for charging gadgets.

    “Altclub is exclusively available to The Alternative Bank customers, showcasing our commitment to their comfort and convenience. Present your boarding pass and proof of Altbank membership at the entrance, and our dedicated staff will ensure a seamless and enjoyable pre-flight experience,”
    Korede Demola-Adeniyi, Executive Director of Sales at The Alternative Bank, added.

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    10 best countries for tourists to visit in 2024 — Nigeria is not 1 of them

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    The United States achieved a significant victory on the international stage, being named the best country for travel and tourism in 2024 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

    As CNN describes, the rankings are based on a number of criteria, including infrastructure, natural resources, sustainability, labour availability and price competitiveness.

    However, it’s worth noting that WEF’s data focuses on tourism-related aspects such as hotels, airports, attractions, airlines – and not on travelers’ on-site experiences.

    Europe is strongly represented in the top 10, with six countries on the list, including Spain in second place. In the WEF report, this continent was defined as “a dynamic destination with strong intra-regional flows”

    The continent earned high marks for rail connections, strong economies, stability of the euro and pound and increased mobility of Europeans, which translates into spending money.

    The strength of European passports was also a significant factor in the ranking. In 2024, six countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain – shared the top spot for the world’s most powerful passports according to the Henley Index, and this data was included in the WEF report.

    According to the report, “In 2024, global tourism growth is expected to be boosted by meeting pent-up demand and growth in major Asian markets as travel restrictions are lifted.”

    Japan, ranked number three, is experiencing a tourism boom as borders reopen after the pandemic. China, which ranked eighth, has taken steps to make it easier for tourists to visit by waiving visa requirements for residents of several European countries.

    However, not all countries in the top 10 have reasons to be happy. Spain and Italy, despite their high positions in the ranking, are struggling with the problem of excessive tourism, which leads to conflicts with local communities.

    Here is the full list of the 10 best countries for travel and tourism according to the World Economic Forum

    1 –United States
    2 –Spain
    3 –Japan
    4 –France
    5 –Australia
    6 –Germany
    7 –Great Britain
    8 –China
    9 –Italy
    10 –Switzerland

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