Monthly Archives: April 2016

Industry Salutes Togo’s Best Five Star Hotel

Togo’s top internationally-branded five-star hotel has opened – providing delegates to the forthcoming Africa Hotel Investment Forum [AHIF] in Lomé on June 21-22 with a prime example of achievement in a continent often perceived as being difficult for developers.

The Radisson Blu Hotel 2 Février is the fruit of a private-public partnership between, the hotel developer, Groupe Kalyan; the management company, Carlson Rezidor; and the government of Togo. It took 18 months to develop and is the kind of project encouraged by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO], the agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

The success in developing the hotel so quickly will form the basis of a case-study discussion at AHIF taking place on 21 and 22 June in Lomé.

The session entitled “Lessons from a hotel development success story” will explore how a highly-specified 320 room conference hotel was able to be completed in double quick time in a market which has a reputation for slow infrastructure development progress. The panel will consist of all the main protagonists who will explain what they did to bring the project to fruition.

Matthew Weihs, managing director of Bench Events which organises AHIF, said: “This is a great example of how to get things done in the hotel sector and another good reason why people can be optimistic about investing in Africa. We welcome this hotel opening and of course its timing will provide a great focus for one of our many discussions at AHIF.”

The new hotel fulfils many of the criteria set down by UNWTO which promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability.

Bernadette Essossimna Legzim-Balouki, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Private Sector and Tourism, Togo, said: “This new luxury hotel will give a much-needed boost to our country’s tourism industry which is already going from strength to strength.”

Ashok Gupta, Managing Director & CEO, Kalyan Hospitality Development Togo said: “This is a landmark hotel development which marks a new era for Togo and we are proud that it was achieved through a successful collaboration with Togo’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Private Sector and Tourism.”

The AHIF conference will take place on 21 and 22 June at the new landmark Radisson Blu Hotel 2 Février in the capital.

Ethiopian Airlines To Launch Flights To New York-Newark

Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing airline in Africa, has announced that it will commence scheduled thrice weekly flights to New York-Newark from Addis Ababa on 03 July 2016, via Lomé, Togo.

The airline said it will be deploying the modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route, which not only offers unparalleled onboard comfort to passengers, but is also the world’s most environmentally friendly aircraft with its lower carbon and noise emissions.

It said its Boeing 787 Dreamliner is configured with 24 business class and 246 economy seats, all of which are equipped with Ethiopian’s renowned audio-visual inflight entertainment consoles.

The schedule for this new flight will be as follows: Passengers will be able to connect between New York-Newark and many cities throughout Africa. At Lomé, passengers will enjoy seamless connections to/from points in West Africa with ASKY, Ethiopian partner airline based in Lomé.

Connections will be available to/from Abidjan, Bamako, Bissau, Brazzaville, Conakry, Dakar, Douala, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, N’djamena, Niamey, Ouagadougou and Yaoundé. At Addis Ababa, passengers will enjoy seamless connections to/from points in East and Southern Africa, including Nairobi, Dares Salaam, Khartoum, Kampala, Kigali, and Johannesburg.

Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, remarked, “We are thrilled to resume our service to New York, our fifth gateway in the Americas.

New York is one of the world’s most economically powerful cities and including it in our ever expanding network will play a critical role in the expansion of trade, tourism and investment between the fast growing continent of Africa and the United States.

I would like to thank all who strived hard to make the route possible.” New York-Newark becomes Ethiopian’s 93rd international gateway and 4th gateway in North America.

Ethiopian currently operates daily nonstop flights from Washington DC to Addis Ababa, as well as three weekly nonstop flights from Toronto to Addis Ababa and three weekly flights from Los Angeles to Addis Ababa via Dublin. Ethiopian is expanding its network rapidly. In the past year has introduced services to Tokyo, Manila, Dublin, Los Angeles, Cape Town, Durban, Gaborone, Yaoundé, and Goma.

Damaging Effects Of Arik’s Suspension Of Operations

Despite huge financial losses on its domestic operations occasioned by the disruption of its operations by the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria [ATSSSAN], Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Arik may also be counting its losses on regional and international operations.

The carrier has huge flight network to New York, Johannesburg, London, Accra, Banjul, Dakar, Monrovia, among others. It was learnt that virtually all its flights including destinations earlier mentioned were affected.

This became manifest after the airline decided to shut its operations following the picketing of its offices for allegedly owing the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria [FAAN] N12.5B for services said to have been rendered by the aviation agency.

The Managing Director of the airline, Chris Ndulue, while fielding questions from a television station yesterday denied that his firm owe FAAN such humongous amount of money, adding that Arik had paid FAAN over N18 billion in services rendered since inception of its operations.

He said what was being reconciled was about N5b, which he claimed is still in dispute.

Yesterday’s grounding of Arik equally led to the stranding of international passengers already booked on flights that never took off, causing them untold hardship.

Equally worrisome was the fact that since domestic operations of the carrier were the first to suffer, it would be senseless for passengers coming from London and connecting from Lagos to Enugu for instance to embark on such trip.

Arik’s current situation could lead to travel dislocation if the crisis lingers. The airline controls about 30 per cent of the market and operates many destinations some other airlines do not operate to.
Other airlines could also capitalise on its misfortune to fill up their aircraft to destinations like Abuja, Enugu, Owerri, Port-Harcourt, Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna and Maiduguri among others, just as air fares could rise as demand would no doubt outnumber seat capacity.

However, the impact may not be felt that much considering the fact that airlines like Dana, FirstNation Airways, Medview, Overland Air Peace, Azman could easily fill Arik’s void compared to what happened four years ago when the airline held the nation to ransom by shutting its operations over similar impasse.

Unlike four years ago when the Federal Government practically begged Arik to come back to service despite unresolved settlement of debts owed by the airline, the situation now is very different as there are more airlines that can make their action inconsequential.

Meanwhile, the airline has promised to brief the media today at noon at its head office at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on wide range of issues including situations that led to union’s action and how to quickly end the face-off that has done incalculable damage to its operations and image.

Should Africa Support Zimbabwe’s Mzembi Push For UNWTO Sec- Gen Post?

Following Zimbabwe nomination and the Southern African Development Community’s endorsement of the candidature of Dr Walter Mzembi to the position of Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO], which falls vacant in the last quarter of 2017, the mercurial Engineer, is in the United States of America on a diplomatic charm offensive, where he is reported to be making significant inroads into the Washington power matrix.

On Monday 4, April 2016, accompanied by the Zimbabwe Ambassador to Washington DC Amon Mutembwa and Senior Officials, he paid a courtesy call on the US Department where he met Todd Haskell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and other Senior Officials in the Department.

According to the programme seen by this publication, Mzembi later addressed the Corporate Council on Africa [CCA] meeting on “Destination Africa: The Future of African Tourism”.

As guest speaker, he met a conglomerate of US private sector, business and public policy experts on the tourism sector.

Corporate Council on Africa, a leading Washington Think Tank brings together public and private sectors in the USA and seeks to promote business and investment between the United States and Africa.

The question is, should the rest of Africa support Nzembi’s candidacy? Who is He? What has he contributed to Africa tourism development since he got on the Board of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO]?

Or should Africa’s candidate be dictated from abroad again? For the publisher/editor of African Travel Times Magazine who at a time worked with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority [ZTA], and have met Nzembi both in Zimababwe and abroad on several occasions, no one can better x-ray him better than the editor.

Though, very intelligent just like most educated Zimbabweans, but like most Zimbabwe tourism leadership/administrators cannot be trusted. This writer was at the heart of media and public relations project that has brought that country to international limelight once again through tourism; however, what he saw was nothing, but people that money matters to much more than their image.

Honesty regrettably is a scare commodity among that blessed country’s tourism administrators.

Besides, I will not be in support of a Third World candidate again that tourism is passing through one of the most difficult period of human history. The out-going Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, was nothing but a disgrace to third World countries.

His tenure so far gives nothing to Africa tourism; rather, we were ripped off all the time. There was never a time that the UNWTO under him gave anything to Africa.

His visits to Africa were nothing but mere photo sessions and rhetoric. Nzembe is not a good product that can help African tourism, much more the world. Africa has more qualified people with passion for the sector and with minimum risk.

Nzembe’s lobbying of CCA, an American organization devoted to US-Africa business relations and includes as its members, more than 180 companies, which represents nearly 85 per cent of total US private and public sector investments in Africa, [CCA’s members range from America’s smallest to the largest corporations] will not work.

Though, it represents a diverse pool of industries from Africa’s most promising sectors, including agribusiness, capacity building, energy, finance, health, ICT, infrastructure and security.
The Corporate Council on Africa is a key resource mobiliser for conducting successful business in Africa.

It works closely with governments, multilateral groups and businesses to improve Africa’s trade and investment climate and to raise the profile of Africa in the U.S. business community.

Most importantly, recently, CCA acquired the Africa Travel Association [ATA], a major organization that deals with promotion of tourism relationships between Africa and US.

Mzembi is a three-time past President of the then New York based Association. The CCA President and Chief Executive, Mr Stephen Hayes is understood to be consulting for Mzembi on the future structure of ATA under its new CCA configuration.

According to the source close to the deliberations, Mzembi impressed the CCA capacity audience with several companies having offered to work with him in exploiting opportunities in Africa.
He spoke convincingly on the need to configure CCA-ATA in a manner that responds to the tourism growth trajectory and aspirations of African countries.

The minister suggested the consummation of a structure that dovetails into African Union Agenda 2063 with a recommendation on the devolution of emerging CCA-ATA structure into an African Secretariat based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Currently, Africa’s global tourism market share oscillates from three to five per cent, and Mzembi shared his vision for a double digit market share for African tourism by the year 2030 on the back of a cocktail of proposals he has advanced to the AU in his capacity as the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa Chairperson.

In addition, the Minister rounded off his visit in New York where he will addressed a meeting of diplomats accredited to the United Nations where he will share his vision on tourism development.

Intercontinental Hotel: Lagos Show Of Shame

According to Wikipedia, online information warehouse, InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, informally InterContinental Hotels or IHG is an English multinational hotels company headquartered in Denham, United Kingdom.

IHG has over 710,000 rooms and 4,800 hotels across nearly 100 countries and opened its first hotel in Nigeria in 2013.

Founded on April 15, 2003 with an estimated $1.803 billion USD 2015 and operates subsidiaries like; Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Even Hotels and IHG Army Hotels.

When in 2013 InterContinental Lagos opened, it made history as the tallest hotel in Nigeria and in West Africa.

The 358-room hotel located on Plot 52, Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, is a 23-storey hotel that offers stunning panoramic views of Lagos.

With four restaurants and stylish bars on offer, Ekaabo, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, serves up a blend of Nigerian and international cuisine and overlooks a majestic waterfall, while Milano offers contemporary Italian cuisine.

Despite the impressive and sophistication described above, like a typical new brand still finding its feet, it has sometimes lacked the creativity and elitism of the likes of Starwood, Hilton and Marriott.

In spite of its passive international status, its operation and public relations templates left much to be desire.

Unlike most reliable and sophisticated chains, IHG has a terrible and despicable public relations unit. The management seems not to even understand what public relations is all about at Intercontinental Hotel Lagos.

Recently, the hotel recklessly sent mails, which they followed up with phone calls inviting some selected tourism and event journalists, which included the Publisher/Editor of this publication that the hotel was organising a dinner with the hotel’s general manager and a possible night stay.

On arrival, I walked to the check-in area to get my room, the lady over the counter asked me to wait and put a call across to the lady in-charge and shortly a lady walked up to me and said who my friend from vanguard newspaper introduced as the new media contact for IGH.

She pleaded I wait few minutes and on her return, she said in a low voice, “sorry we are fully booked”. With a smile, I said to her I have not been here before and my suspicion of a hotel with terrible public relations unit has just been proved right.

Meanwhile, on her own, she sent me a mail and followed with phone call. Walking away from her, she looked helpless, incompetent and dazed.

Without waiting for more embarrassment, I put a call through to Eko Hotel & Suites where I have barter running into several millions of naira to spend the night.

For my colleagues that I left behind, they were treated like beggars and denied meals.

Yet when the journalists, most of whom have travelled the world in the name of tourism were checking out, IHG was still asking to see front page story and possibly free pages of features.

For intercontinental to enjoy any favourable mentioning in any newspaper or media which publicity is all about, the hotel must learn the rudiments of public relations or else, they would be endangering the owner’s investment.

Just for the benefits of our readers, no International chain in Nigeria; the likes of Hilton, Sheraton, Meridian, Protea and the many franchised properties have any investment in the hotel they manage in the country.

InterContinental Lagos is the sixth InterContinental hotel in sub-Saharan Africa and it rumoured that in five years, two more additional InterContinental hotels would be opened in Senegal and Uganda.