Category Archives: Interview

Regional Tourism Is Crucial ToThe Sector In West Africa – GTA Boss

With a strong media, marketing and public relations background, Akwasi Agyeman, who until recently Managing Director of Global Media Alliance Broadcasting [GMA] of Ghana and now the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Tourism Authority [GTA], knows what to do.

Govt Must Uncover What Tourism Contributes To GDP – Nkereuwem

Nkereuwem Onung is the newly elected first National Deputy President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN]. Besides, he is a foremost Tour Operator in the country and Founder of Remlords Tours with head office in Calabar and offices in Lagos and Abuja. He is also the president of National Association of Nigeria Tour Operators [NATOP], one of the most important tourism subsectors in the travel and tourism industry.

Open Skies In Africa Will Be Fully Implemented In The Next Five Years – Rwand Air Chairman

Ato Girma Wake, is the current Chairman of RwandAir and former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines viewed by many as the Godfather of African aviation, having overseen the rise of Ethiopian Airlines.

Wake will be addressing the AviaDev Africa audience this October, discussing the current state of the industry on the continent and how it has changed during his 50 years of service to the industry.

Ahead of the conference, Jon Howell, Managing Director, AviaDev spoke with Wake about his thoughts on the state of the industry:

You are currently the Chairman of RwandAir- an ambitious and expanding airline,five years from now,do you think RwandAir will be rivalling the big three Sub-Saharan carriers in terms of size and scale?

Yes, I am currently the Chairman of RwandAir and have served in this capacity for the last five years. I have witnessed the progress RwandAir made year after year in terms of route network expansion, fleet renewal and capacity development.

In five years’ time, I expect it to further expand and strengthen its market and geographical reach. The big three Sub-Saharan carriers you referred to have been around for many years. It will be difficult for RwandAir to rival these carriers in terms of number of destinations, number of passengers, size of fleet and yearly revenue in the next five years.

However, I can assure you it can rival any airline in terms of on-time departure, quality of services and standard of performance. The size and scale will be reached a bit later.

You have lived and worked against the back drop of the open skies for Africa discussions. Do you think we will ever have truly open skies in Africa or is this simply wishful thinking?

True, we have struggled with the concept of open skies in Africa for twenty eight long years since the idea was first floated in 1989 as Yamoussoukro Declaration. It was later changed to Yamoussoukro decision in 1999. We have seen tremendous improvement in ease of bilateral traffic rights in the last fifteen years and I am sure open skies in Africa will be fully implemented in the next five years.

There could be some resistance and hurdles here and there for the short term, but the determination of our Heads of States to create One African sky will prevail. We now have the structure and the legal framework in place and we are ready for a truly Open Skies in Africa.

Which airlines operating currently in Africa do you think have the potential to be the future stars of the continent and why?

I would like to see all African airlines shine, but as you know life is not that fair. I believe Africa will have four or five large, long haul operators and a few regional and mid-size airlines in the next ten years. When and if the nationality [ownership] clause is removed, consolidation will take its course which will lead to fewer, but stronger African Airlines in the long term.

Coming back to your question, forgive for my bias, but I honestly believe Ethiopian Airlines will remain one of the stars. It has a good foundation, a strong aviation academy to continue producing trained skilled manpower, it has a good maintenance facility that not only serves the airlines, but brings in revenue for the airline, an excellent route network, committed management and staff, leadership continuity, a long term vision for sustained operational excellence, a centrally located growing hub and a government that gives the airline free hand to manage its affairs.

Moreover, it continues to be the most profitable airline on the continent. Consequently, I believe Ethiopian will continue to remain in the forefront as a star.

Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Egypt Air and Royal Air Maroc will also be in that league. I only hope the first three will solve their current problems. These carriers are good airlines with reasonable size fleet, route network, and traffic density.

It is my belief that Kenya airways and South African Airways can easily sustain the status of Stars in Africa if they do something about their management stability and if in the case of South African Airways, the heavy arm of the state can be removed from the day to day operation of the airline. RwandAir, ASKY and Air Cote d’Ivoire are upcoming stars in their areas of operation.

It is my sincere hope and desire to see one Nigerian carrier emerge as a star when the current temporary turmoil in the aviation industry in Nigeria is settled.

I hope and pray it will be sooner than later. Given the traffic volume, there is strong probability for a well-managed Nigerian carrier to emerge as a star in Africa. I have not included the Indian Ocean island carriers in this category due to their limited operational participation in the continent.

Wake will address the audience this October during AviaDev. Find out more about this landmark event for African aviation development and register now at www.aviationdevelop.com

La Villa Hotel Is An Oasis In The Heart Of Accra – Quarshie

La Villa Boutique Hotel, Accra Ghana is a wonderful hospitality facility in the heart of Ghana’s Capital. Leeford Quarshie, General Manager of this resort-like property in this special interview with Lucky Onoriode George of African Travel Times magazine bares his mind on what makes the La Villa special and attractive to long list of international visitors.

Carnival Calabar Should Be Fully Private Sector Funded by 2020 – Gabe

Since its establishment in 2005, Africa’s biggest street party dubbed ‘Carnival Calabar’ has become a mainstay in terms of what Cross River [the host state] is known for. Year in, year out modifications geared towards the sustainability of the event is continually being made. In this interview with OBAJI AKPET of African Travel Times, the chairman of Cross River carnival commission, Gabe Onah peaks of some of the modifications that have been made, and the number of countries expected to hit this year’s carnival, the economy of carnival Calabar, and other sundry issues.

We’re currently witnessing the last Carnival Calabar dry run, what’s the plan so far for this year’s event?

The governor has promised that Carnival Calabar 2016 will be bigger, bolder and better; at the carnival commission, we say ‘it will be fireworks.’ The governor, in conjunction with the stakeholders, based on his revised vision, decentralized the carnival routes to introduce something new; and this is what we have experienced here by decentralizing the flag off points and muster points for Carnival Calabar 2016 and beyond.

The trick is that the public/audience had complained about longer hours on the road, and in assuaging these feelings, we went back to the drawing board when the governor said ‘how do we create more excitement?’ the new route was borne. And today, we have celebrity dry run; we had the royal dry run the other time, apart from the first dry run.

Every dry run is an experience; it’s a day out for families celebrating the week end of Sunday. And this final dry run is a replica of what will happen come December 28, 2016. Then the international carnival is another new story we did last year; we have expanded it by including the arrival.

We have over 20 countries that have signified interest to be in Calabar.

Apart from the bikers’ parade and the street rally, their participations are some of the things that are going to create more excitements.

You’ve been the chairman of Carnival commission since 2007, what can you say has been the return on yearly herculean investment in the carnival?

For us, our projection is that by 2020, Carnival Calabar should be 100 per cent private sector funded.

So far, as a responsible government, and clerking the return on investment, the socio-economic factor is huge. The economics of it, the change of life it brings about, creating jobs for our boys and girls and putting monies in their hands, has been huge in terms of success.

The milestones and data are there for us to see. But the private sector funding, which is what we call the buying, is yet to achieve where we want it to be. But 2020, yet not far, but still far; we’re beginning to create that gradual awareness.

You could see the flags of the sponsors’; we had over 20 sponsors’ flag. Through the years we have received different overtures from different sponsorship companies, some of them as their CSRs, some of them as outright supports to the government; and this is why we wanted this to be bottom up in terms of growth.

But we place it on the past mark, in terms of growth, is a private sector running with it? Yes. And this brings us to the role government has to play; government has to sit back, government has to sit in terms of our involvement, first, in funding, second, in organization because the private sector would want to manage their own; and as a businessman the governor said he is buying into that vision and that the future of carnival Calabar is in the hands of the private sector.

Could you give a quick assessment on the Carnival Calabar so far?

Having been around on this journey, the Carnival Calabar has grown in leaps and bounds, every year comes with its own, so also every governor comes with his own too.

Above all, we’ve been lucky to have three consecutive governors who have kept the dream, kept the promise. We want carnival Calabar to be a way of life of the people of Cross River State. Have we achieved this? Yes. We have achieved this.

You can see what the present governor has brought to bear. He has increased the participation of people in government; he has increased the international appreciation and he has increased the community participation; and the lot of Carnival Calabar, for its community participation. So for me, it’s grown in leaps and bounds.

Moving on, what can you say is the future of Carnival Calabar?

The future of Carnival Calabar is that it’s going to grow beyond any one of us and that’s my prayer. Carnival Calabar will grow beyond us. I want to sit back and look back and say that this was what we started and that it is doing well.