The wedding show @ AKWAABA 2015

As West-Africa’s biggest Travel Expo enters the 11th year, the organisers, in a move to add more events that would deliver more value to ex­hibitors and visitors, as well as add more glamour and panache to the expo, will be introducing the Wedding & Spa Show at this year’s event.

Nkechi Uko disclosed that this year’s event will also include Spa Africa Day, and it is sched­uled to hold on November 22, 2015.

The Akwaaba Travel Market was established by Ikechi Uko as a platform for buyers and sell­ers in the African travel trade. It provides networking oppor­tunities for tourists, airline operators, hotels, restaurants, government tourism boards and other key industry people on the continent.

Uko recalled that initially, it was very challenging though exciting, because it was a new journey. He said: “Organising the travel exhibition is like go­ing to school all over again. It has not been a bed of roses.”

Akwaaba includes awards which are a critical component of the exhibition and it has be­come one of the most-sought-after and treasured reward plaques in the industry.

At each edition of Akwaaba, Uko measures success by the volume of trade transacted. At the 10th edition, he stated that a hotel group sold 10,000 hotel rooms as a first timer. Another group sold products to 10–15 hotels, while so many other contacts and negotiations were made during the fair.

He remarked about the 10th edition: “Probably, the 10th year was when the business was done and almost every exhibitor told me that this is their best year. There were a few exhibitors and they enjoyed more attention and they could pick from the people that came, and most of the peo­ple that came were hungry for results. For some of them, there had been no business for three or four months.” The return on investments for most of the ex­hibitors was high.

One thing that distinguishes the travel fair is the capacity of Akwaaba to attract very dis­tinguished personalities from around the world. Some African Heads of State had attended in the past, while some were hon­oured for their contributions to the industry. Uko said: “We are the first to honour the guy who organised the World Cup in South Africa. After that, we started getting honours for the other people when we did the ‘Legends of Travel’. We hon­oured Sir Dawda Jawara, the former president of Gambia, and Captain Mohammed of Ethiopian Airline. We have hon­oured the biggest Egyptologist in the world.”

Uko, in preparations for this year’s edition, is optimistic that Akwaaba will continue to open new vista of opportunities for exhibitors to meet global buyers of their products and services.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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