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.

Synagogue Church Confirms Relocation Story, Advance Team Departs Soon

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, has urged Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, Founder/General Overseer, Synagogue Church of All Nations [SCOAN] not to relocate from the country as he urged the renowned prophet to come for dialogue with the government in a means of finding lasting solutions to the various challenges the Church is facing in recent times.

The Minister said this while fielding questions from the journalists during the on-going National Association of Nigeria Tour Operators [NATOP] Annual General Meeting and Conference 2017 holding at the Renaissance Hotel Ikeja, Lagos by today.

Prophet Joshua declared his intention to leave Nigeria and relocate his ministry to the nation of Israel during a church service on Sunday 30th April 2017.

Joshua disclosed that he had just returned from the ‘Holy Land’ after holding meetings with three prominent Israeli mayors of Jerusalem, Tiberias and the Jordan Valley.

He noted that Israel offered him both land and facilities in an area around the biblical site of the Sea of Galilee for him to organize meetings for international pilgrims.

“This is where my Father in Heaven came from – it’s non-negotiable,” Joshua explained, adding it was not a decision he undertook lightly.

“It’s the best place for you to meet Prophet T.B. Joshua. After your healing, blessing and deliverance, you can move around all the spiritual monuments which will establish your faith,” he clarified.

Joshua said his decision to leave was not connected to the “persecution” he endured during his ministry.

He said the move would help people to “appreciate” what his ministry had been contributing to both the local economy and Nigeria’s international image.

“This is the most persecuted ministry in the world. Who are the people persecuting the ministry? My people, Africa.

“That is why I choose to live a lonely life. If you want to see me, come to this church.

“Your life can preach a better sermon than your mouth,” he exhorted the congregation, stating that the Israeli officials had observed his ministry from afar before inviting him.

When visited the church this afternoon, sources there confirmed the story and that arrangement are in top gear as an advance team will depart Nigeria shortly.

NTDC, NANTA Partner To Promote Domestic Tourism In Nigeria

The Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], Folorunsho Coker, has stressed the need to redefine the tourism sector, “a redefinition of what tourism is as an industry, as a site and as a channel through which we drive the increase in consumption of tourism assets in Nigeria”.

“Our initial focus is on domestic tourism, to make the best use of what we have and CONSUME MORE OF NIGERIA”, he said.

Coker said this while receiving an eight-man team of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies [NANTA] which paid him a courtesy visit at the Corporation’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.

The NTDC boss, who described the Corporation as a corporate member of NANTA expressed the readiness of the Corporation to be a worthy partner to NANTA in championing the course of tourism in Nigeria, and collaborate with the association on the area of statistics and data collection, to enable private investors know which state has potentials to explore and develop.

Coker asked that for a working partnership between the private and the public sector in the development and promotion of tourism in Nigeria. He added that public/private partnership will boost the tourism agenda of Nigeria.

The National President of NANTA, Bankole Bernard, earlier in his speech described the appointment of Folorunsho Coker as a blessing to the tourism sector, saying, “I am sure that the good work he did with the Lagos tourism would be replicated in the 36 states in Nigeria”.

Bernard expressed dissatisfaction about the manner in which the promotion of tourism is being managed in Nigeria, saying, “Tourism has not been well developed, promoted and packaged because the country had wholly depended and focused on the oil sector. Tourism is everything. We all have to embrace it and take it seriously”.

NANTA National President who called for a conscious investment in the promotion of domestic tourism in Nigeria, described the country as a potential tourism market, with a vibrant and dynamic business environment especially with the improved Nigerian’s image under the present administration.

Despite the aforementioned, the NTDC press release did not explain how, when and what to be done. From history, NANTA has not contributed anything significant to promote tourism apart from selling tickets on behalf of local and mostly internationally airlines.

Cross River Superhighway: ‘We’re Not Against It We Only Want The Needful To Be Done,’ Olory, Oyama

Contrary to media perspective, the Cross River National Park and the spearhead of Rainforest Development Centre [RDC] in Cross River have debunked reports that they were ever against the construction of the current Cross River Government’s flagship superhighway project.

The construction of the proposed 260-kilometre super highway is one of the two signature projects promised by Cross River Governor Ben Ayade at inception with the aim of providing an evacuation corridor for the state’s economic potentials since, as argued by Ayade neither the federal road nor the German bridge in Ikom made this possible.

To show its preparedness on the project, the state government embarked on bush clearing on the passage of the road, which has since overgrown with grass.

But this aspiration by the current administration had constantly been setback by petitions and its inability to meet federal government’s requirement, which includes conducting a proper environmental impact assessment [EIA], an aspect the state views as a conspiracy by certain parties aimed at truncating the progress of the project.

Both the Cross River national park speaking to our reporter through its deputy conservator of parks [DCP] in Cross River, DCP Caroline Olory and RDC’s executive director and frontline environmental activist, Odey Oyama said they were only requesting the needful to be done and were not out rightly against the project.

Olory held that the position of the national park had always been for the state government nursing the project to carry out a proper EIA of the project before commencement.

According to her “The superhighway is a development project, if the state government can do a proper EIA we have no problem”.

On his part, environmental activist Odey Oyama said he had never been against the project being that Cross River lacked good roads, but however maintained that the state government must follow section 46 of the Nigerian land use act and do the needful.

“I’m not against the superhighway because we don’t have good roads in the state,” the environmental activist said.

In addition, he added, the state government should also embark on exhaustive consultation of all the stakeholders affected by the construction of the road and giving them the opportunity to make useful contributions.

Oyama further posited that government must also properly file compensation to communities and persons affected by the passage of the superhighway.


Tourism Key For Economic Growth And Diversification In The MENA Region

Tourism can be a key driver of the growth and economic diversification for the Middle East and North Africa region concluded the 2017 Ministerial Forum organized by the World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] and the Arabian Travel Market [ATM] under the patronage of H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates. Yet, maximizing the power of the sector requires increased regional cooperation, prioritization of tourism in the national agendas and building resilience and sustainability [Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 24 April, 2017].

Moderated by CNN Becky Anderson, the UNWTO/ATM Ministerial Forum concluded that the main priorities for the region include human resources development, public/private sector cooperation, connectivity, technology and sustainability.

Issues on discussion included the development of domestic tourism by engaging repeat travellers, the support to innovation and entrepreneurship, the need to improve the quality and ‘perception’ of tourism employment, visa facilitation, intra-regional connectivity and the measurement of tourism’s impact through the recently launched UNWTO Initiative on Measuring Sustainable Tourism [MST].

Participants further recalled that much of the growth of the sector comes from the high level of support at policy level it receives from many countries in the region as a tool to diversify oil-based economies.

H.E. Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, UAE, said that tourism has proven to be one of the main pillars of economic and social development in various countries. He pointed out that the MENA region has strong potential to become one of the world’s leading tourist destinations due to its extensive tourism attractions.

He added that the region’s countries are at the threshold of a new phase of tourism growth which requires greater cooperation to ensure the maximization of opportunities offered by this sector.

He also noted the need to consolidate partnerships at the government and private levels to overcome obstacles to their efforts to enhance the competitiveness of their respective tourism sectors and make the most of tourism’s impact on their growth and development.

Mr Al Muhairi further stated that “tourism is a top priority under the development policies of the UAE, revealing that the sector contributes 12.1% to the national GDP and accounts for around 10.4% of the domestic labour market”.

“Investments to the sector exceeded AED 26 billion in 2016, a year which saw the number of visitors to the UAE reaching 24.8 million with total spend of about AED 110 billion”, he added

Commending the UNWTO/ ATM Ministerial Forum for providing an important platform for discussing the best ways to enhance the contributions of tourism to the development objectives of the UAE and other countries in the region he emphasized how the forum reflects the UAE’s keenness to support the global efforts to make tourism one of the pillars of sustainable development.

“Despite all external shocks, the Middle East and North Africa tell one of tourism’s biggest success stories. A story that brings an immense opportunity to make tourism a pillar of economic diversification, job creation and sustainable development in this region” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“Today’s meeting is an opportunity to identify the priorities of tourism policy for the MENA destinations, strengthen regional cooperation and public-private partnerships that prepare the region to welcome the 195 million international tourist arrivals – almost triple the present volume of 72 million – forecasted by UNWTO for 2030. ” he added.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The Middle East is developing at an extraordinary pace as countries diversify from a dependence on hydrocarbon receipts. As such it is vital leaders in the region continue to find new ways of capitalising on tourism growth built on sustainability.

“The UNWTO & ATM Ministerial Forum provided an effective platform for stakeholders across the industry spectrum to identify the opportunities, as well as the challenges, that currently prevail throughout the region.”

The Middle East received 53.6 million international tourist arrivals in 2016. Arrivals decreased an estimated 4% with very mixed results among the region’s destinations. International tourist arrivals to North Africa grew by 3% to 18.6 million.