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    UNWTO bridges agriculture, gastronomy to stimulate tourism

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    At the eighth edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, co-organised with Basque Culinary Center (BCC), stakeholders chart a path forward to strengthen the links between product, gastronomy and tourism.

    UNWTO and BCC hosted more than 300 online participants from 50 countries with focus on the promotion and preservation of local products, contribution of tourism to sustainable development, innovation and food waste.

    Prior to the event, UNWTO appointed Chef Fatmata Binta and world-renowned Basque Chefs Martín Berasategi and Pedro Subijana as Ambassadors for Sustainable Tourism, in the framework of the 8th UNWTO World Forum in recognition of their work in gastronomy, the enhancement of local produce and community development.

    With this nomination, the UNWTO underlines the importance of sustainable food systems, cultural preservation and capacity building as examples of the joint transformative potential of gastronomy and tourism for the development and prosperity of communities around the world.

    The Forum put the spotlight on gastronomy tourism’s role in the preservation of local territories and the promotion of sustainable practices. A high-level panel of tourism ministers – Bulgaria, Puerto Rico and Zimbabwe focused on policies that strengthen agriculture, gastronomy and tourism. Expert-led discussions also focused on the protection of culinary traditions, the value of geographical indications, advancing the sustainability and resilience of rural areas, enabling producers to thrive in an increasingly interconnected and technology-driven world. The forum explored the sectors’ potentials as a source of inclusive growth across the globe.

    Drawing from the recommendations in the Global Roadmap for Food Waste Reduction in Tourism, released by UNWTO in collaboration with UN Environment Programme, titled the “Circular Solutions for Reducing Food Waste”, session showcased diverse initiatives by hotels, restaurants and cruise lines. Solutions ranged from prevention measures, such as mindful procurement and menu design; redistribution of food surplus to vulnerable groups and biomaterial processing; to circular strategies like composting or energy recovery. The discussions also emphasised the significance of education, innovation, and supportive regulations and policies in accelerating change.

    According to UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili who highlighted the combined potential of gastronomy and tourism, “it is a privilege to have world-renowned chefs in the mission to advance the role of gastronomy and tourism for our planet and people, strengthening communities, fostering sustainable food systems and changing lives. Gastronomy Tourism can play a leading role in promoting responsible agricultural practices, protecting biodiversity and reducing the environmental footprint. It can also create new opportunities for communities to thrive and protect their heritage and traditions and become an engine of growth and diversification for destinations supporting our roadmap towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

    On his part, General Director of BCC, Joxe Mari Aizega, General Director of Basque Culinary Center said: “We are at a time to promote transformative dynamics and link gastronomy tourism with rural development. Territory, innovation and creativity are key to successfully moving towards a new scenario in which to promote a model of responsible gastronomy tourism focused on caring for people and the environment. It is essential to promote sustainable practices, harnessing the power of technology as an engine of growth and promoting the professional development of the sector, and to work to maintain the authenticity and diversity of the gastronomic offer.”

    In a special address, the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Auxillia C. Mnangagwa, a committed promoter of African gastronomy highlighted that gastronomy tourism globally has become an effective tool of attracting tourists, particularly those who are cognisant of the natural and nutritional value embedded in traditional foods. “As nations we should be able to tap into our nutritional traditional cuisines to ensure a healthy living and socio-economic development of our nations. This is in line with our heritage-based philosophy for promoting tourism.”

    On the occasion, UNWTO designated Chef Fatmata Binta as Ambassador for Responsible Tourism for her role in promoting African Gastronomy and community development. Chef Binta is a modern-day nomadic chef connected to the Fulani culture, customs, and cuisine of the biggest Nomadic group in West and Central Africa. In Donostia – San Sebastian, selected finalists from previous UNWTO Startup Competitions working on Gastronomy pitched their ideas. The solutions presented featured exceptional, personalised culinary experiences curated by renowned chefs (Searchef), streamlining waste management in hospitality (Eatinn), celebrating the flavours of Moroccan street food (Machi Mouchkil), establishing sustainability certifications and restaurant guidelines (Ecofoodies), and introducing a locally crafted, quality food delivery app (Oh les Chefs). Oh les Chefs emerged as the winner, primarily for its strong potential for international expansion. They will gain access to a dedicated workspace within the LABe- Digital Gastronomy Lab for six months. Additionally, the startup will actively engage in the Culinary Action!, gastronomy entrepreneurship programme by Basque Culinary Center and enjoy a six-month membership in the GOe Digital Community.

    More than 700 startups from more than 100 countries have taken part in the competition. Applications are now open for the 4th Edition of the UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Centre and powered by Alpitour World.

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    Foreigners patronizing private hospitals in Nigeria-NMA

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    Foreigners patronizing private hospitals in Nigeria-NMA

    Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has confirmed that some foreigners have taken interest in the quality of health care services being provided by some private health care facilities in Nigeria, hence the increased patronage of such facilities by the foreigners.

    Its President, Dr. Audu Bala, told journalists at a press conference, in Abuja, on Wednesday, that the patronage by foreigners from different countries of the world is an indication of the growing confidence and trust in the health care services in Nigeria as championed by the private sector.

    He said: “private sector, all over the world, play critical role in providing quality health care services to the people. Nigeria, undoubtedly, has a very high medical tourism rate. Nigerians visit medical facilities in different countries in search for quality health care services.

    “To this end, it’s important to adequately engage the private sector to turn the medical tourism in favour of Nigeria. There are several key players that have invested heavily and had left a landmark in the quality of care they provide to the people.

    “There are number of private health care facilities that receive patients from other parts of the world. So, additional investment and support for the private health care facilities would go a long way, and also champion the campaign for the reversal of medical tourism in Nigeria.”

    He made reference to recent proposal by the Association for the establishment of the National Tertiary Health Care Development Fund that will function like the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) in the education sector.
    “This will enable the government to provide adequate funding for the tertiary health institutions. It will also open additional gateways that will even support the private sector access fund with low interest rate,” he said.

    Reacting to the recent corruption index report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the NMA President faulted the report, insisting that his members have and had maintained high level of integrity and respect in their interactions with patients in the hospital.

    He said: “The report placed the rate of bribery amongst adults who accessed healthcare services in public hospitals at very minimal percentage. We are working to reduce the figure to the bearest minimum.

    “The fact that services of Doctors and Nurses in public sector is the least corruptible is the attestation to the integrity and ethics within the health sector.”

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    Uzodinma’s infrastructural development will attract investors, tourists – Imo lawmaker

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    Uzodinma’s infrastructural development will attract investors, tourists – Imo lawmaker

    Johnleoba Iheoha, representing Ikeduru State Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly, and chairman, House of Assembly Standing Committee on Industry and Commerce, has said that the South East geopolitical zone would witness an upsurge of investors and tourists from within and outside the country when the ongoing works at the Nekede Imo International Market and the Assumpta Roundabout flyover are completed.

    Johnleoba, who spoke to newsmen, had described the Imo International Market, Nekede, located along Port Harcourt Road, as an outstanding business outfit that will help to position the state as an investment hub within Sub-Saharan Africa.

    The Imo legislator noted that the international market is an expansive market with the capacity to accommodate thousands of traders and allied workers in various trades and businesses.

    As he inspected the ongoing construction work at the Assumpta Roundabout flyover, said that the flyover would not only be an added glamour to the beauty of Owerri, but will go a long way to enhance free flow of traffic.

    He also spoke on the ongoing state-owned electricity power generation project at Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area, saying that it would help the state to be self-sufficient in power generation and supply, which he saw as a prelude to industrial revolution in the state.

    Johnleoba equally commended Governor Uzodinma for the sponsorship of the recently concluded three-day capacity building workshop for principal officers of the Imo State House of Assembly at the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies, Abuja.

    According to him, “The capacity building programme has added great value to every member of the 10th State House of Assembly.

    I now have greater knowledge, broader horizon, immeasurable zeal and courage to function as a lawmaker.

    “I now know better, my rights and privileges as well as the rights of the people who mandated me to represent them in the legislative house,” he said.

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

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    FAAN: Improvement of Passenger Facilitation, Security Gave Boost to Tourism

    The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said that its improvement of airport facilities, passenger facilitation and security has encouraged tourism in Nigeria.

    The agency said that the drastic action taken by the Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku against touting at the airports has brought sanity and orderliness to the satisfaction of travellers.

    Kuku identified some of these achievements when she spoke at the Wings of Change Focus Africa Conference (WOCFA) overseen by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week; held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    A statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs & Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said FAAN has recently taken steps to make Nigeria’s airports safe and accessible by genuine tourists and travellers and has also made efforts to eliminate touting and other forms of criminal conducts around the airports.

    FAAN boss also spoke on the recent creation of a dedicated Department for Cargo Services in the agency, as stakeholders emphasized the need for improvement of trade facilitation, including air cargo facilities and infrastructure, cargo compliance, closer collaboration amongst African countries and Stakeholders as well as Cargo Specialized Training for stakeholders.

    There was emphasis on digitalization of passenger processing and how the embrace of robotics technology by airports in Africa would help to give customers further experience of speed, efficiency and excellence. The use of technology to drive efficiency has been part of FAAN’s priority agenda under the present dispensation.

    Making his input on the first day of the conference, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, emphasised the need for removal of visa restrictions to enable free movement of people and goods across the continent, stating that to achieve this, there is need to work with Foreign Affairs Ministers across Africa.

    The Minister equally made a case for adequate funding of air transport in Africa.

    Also speaking at the event, IATA,s Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi called for pursuit of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which constitutes part of FAAN’s recent programmes.

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