Nigeria Travel Week… Organisers unveil nominees for The Balearica Awards

Toni Ukachukwu (second left) speaking at the media briefing in Lagos

In readiness for the maiden edition of Nigeria Travel Week, organisers of the travel and tourism trade event has announced nominees for The Balearica Awards, which forms part of activities slated for the four days gathering that is geared at promoting Nigeria tourism both to the domestic and foreign markets as well as tourists.

Speaking at the media conference held recently in Lagos to update the media on the programe, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Travel Week (NTW), Efetobo Awhana, who is also the CEO of Avantgarde Tours, said that the award, which is to reward and recognise excellence and those, who have made immense contributions to Nigeria tourism, would transform the face of tourism, insisting that is it a unique one.

He explained that the choice of Balearica, which is the name of Nigeria’s national bird on the coat of arm, is symbolic in that it is used for the promotion of tourism. Hence they have adopted it as the brand name and symbol for the award, an indication of the overall mandate and focus of NTW.

According to him, the awards categories are divided into 24 sections, with 20 of the categories to be voted for by the public and the votes vetted by a private auditing firm while four of the categories are not to be voted for by the public but selected by the organisers based on the contributions made by the people so honoured.

The four awardees in this category unveiled by him are Former President Olusegun Obasanjo for Life Time Achievement; Bankole Bernard, president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) as Travel Personality of the Year; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II for Royal Support for Tourism, while those nominated for Tourism Governor are Governors of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ondo and Bauchi States.

Those gunning for best tourism attraction of the year are Idanre Hills, Nike ART Gallery, Calabar Carnival, Kajuru Castle Kaduna, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library and Kano Durbar, while for best airline (domestic) are Peace Air, Medview and Dana. Nominated for Best tour operators are Jemi – Alade Tours, Travelnextdoor, Motley Travels, SJ Tours, Obom Tourism, Tour2Nigeria and Remlords Tours.

Speaking on other aspects of the event, which is billed to hold between November 20 and 25 in Lagos, the Chief Operating Officer of NTW, Toni Ukachukwu, who is also the managing director of Afro Tourism, said that they have secured strategic partners for the event. These include the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and SKAL International Lagos.

Ukachukwu also revealed that preparations have reached advanced stage with 52 hosted buyers from 23 countries across the world attending the event. He said the essence of having hosted buyers, which cut across various stakeholders in the industry – tour operators, travel agents and the media, is to expose them to Nigeria destination and offer them the opportunity to experience Nigeria and in return market the country through their various platforms.

To this end, he revealed that post – event tours to various parts of Lagos would be organised for the hosted buyers alongside their Nigeria counterparts.

‘‘Other events taking place during the Nigeria Travel Week include The Tourism Cup holding at Ikoyi Club golf course, which is a golf tournament to harness the power of golf in promoting tourism,’’ disclosed Ukachukwu.

‘‘The Travel Roundtable holding at The Wheatbaker Hotel, which brings stakeholders together to discuss key issues affecting tourism development; Village Square holding at Freedom Park celebrates Nigerian culture through dance drama and food and The Travel Hangout, where Nigerians can network and talk about tourism in a relaxed and natural environment of the Lekki Conservation Centre,’’ said NTW COO.

The four days event would climax with The Balearica Awards, where the full names of the awardees would be revealed and celebrated for their different achievements. The occasion he said would attract the attention of both government and public operators.



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