In a few weeks' time, the 2019 edition of the Akwaaba African Travel Market will open its doors to thousands of delegates from across the world in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. The foremost travel and tourism event which is in its 15th year, will have major industry players from key source markets around the globe converge at the prestigious Eko Hotel and Suites Lagos from 22 - 24 September, 2019. The Akwaaba ATM is not just a travel and tourism show, it's an experience. The 2019 edition promises to be bigger and better and, these are the 5 major reasons why it'll be the real deal. 1. The Ooni Will be There The very first time I saw an Ooni was on 23 May, 2019, and it was the Ooni of Ife, His Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ojaja II. The occasion was the Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators in Ile Ife held at the Ile Ife Grand Resort which is incidentally owned by the Ooni of Ife. The Ooni had come to welcome us shortly after our arrival in the ancient city of Ile Ife. The atmosphere was electrifying as he walked down from his chambers with a teeming entourage. As I watched and listened to the Oba, I saw royalty at its finest. Perhaps more important than his fineness is his brilliance which is enhanced by an enviable sense of humour. The Ooni of Ife, His Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ojaja II will attend the 15th Akwaaba African Travel Market. He will be the Special Guest of Honour at the first African Tourism Diaspora Conference to be held on 23 September. The Oba will be addressing the global African diaspora on bringing African Cultures together to grow its people. If you've never had an encounter with the Ooni of Ife, His Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the 15th Akwaaba African Travel Market is an opportunity on a platter of gold to rob minds with this first class Royal Father. His warm personality will endear him to you while his brilliance will tickle your intellect. 2. African Tourism Diaspora Conference For the first time ever, Akwaaba ATM will feature the African Tourism Diaspora Conference as a part of the week-long travel and tourism show. The African diaspora and Africa have same unique culture, a rich heritage and beautiful destinations for Tourism and Trade. There is a need therefore, to connect and combine these wonderful cultures and population together as a market for mutual benefit. These and more are what the African Tourism Diaspora Conference will address. Coincidentally, 2019 marks the 400 years of slavery since 1619 when the First Africans were taken by Force to the Caribbean and America. The African Diaspora Tourism Conference will present a platform to discuss as well as celebrate the merging of Africans, Americans, Caribbeans and the rest of the world. The Africa-African Diaspora Tourism Association will be launched at the event. Thought-provoking discussions will be led by renowned African leaders including the Ooni of Ife, His Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Nigeria), Prof. Godfrey Nzamujo (Benin Republic), Thomas Mensah (Ghana), Alain St Ange (Seychelles), Carol Hay (Caribbean), Sharon Palacio (Belize) and other prominent Africans. The Africa Diaspora Tourism Conference will take place on 23 September. There'll be a beautiful fusion of tourism and age-long history. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event, it's not to be missed. 3. Dubai is Coming with a Bang If you're a regular at the Akwaaba African Travel Market, then you probably already know that Dubai is also a regular at the annual travel show. Having made their debut in 2015, this year will be their 5th consecutive appearance at the annual trade show. So, that they are coming again this year is no news. However, the news is that they're coming with a bang, a glimpse and perhaps, a surprise. Last year, up to 15 different companies from Dubai attended and exhibited at the 14th Akwaaba ATM. The Dubai Tourism stand was literally a Mecca of some sort. This year won't be any different, but will in fact, be better. And with the presence of the CEO of Dubai Tourism, Issam Kazim, who will be attending the show for the first time, there's definitely going to be fresh impetus, more glamour, and much more business. At Dubai Tourism Exhibition Stands, you'll fight too hard not to be carried away. You probably won't be able to resist it, so get ready to be carried away. Expect to meet with top notch travel and tourism companies ranging from hospitality to health, and everything in-between. With comfortable and stylishly arranged sofa-like seats, the Dubai Tourism stand will offer you the opportunity to luxuriate while having business-to-business meetings with exhibitors. Half of your business cards will be given out here, so get ready. In 2017, I tried and loved their roasted dates, but in 2018, there wasn't any to my disappointment. But who knows, they might decide to bring back the dates in 2019. Well, dates or not dates, when it comes to Akwaaba ATM, Dubai likes to call the shots, and they call the shots. Will they call the shots in 2019? We will soon find out. Dubai Tourism will take the centre stage on 23 September. 4. The Third Jollof Rice War (JRW III) The Jollof Rice War has been going on for sometime now without a clear winner, so the war continues. I don't know if you're thinking what I'm thinking, but don't get it twisted. The Third Jollof Rice War is not a nuclear war, neither will it be fought with ballistic missiles. It is a culinary war fought among professional chefs from West Africa. The Jollof Rice War is a kind of war that is wrapped up in oxymoron, because it brings unity, peace, cohesion and fosters tolerance and coexistence among Africans. Introduced at the 13th Akwaaba ATM in 2017, the Jollof Rice War is aimed at highlighting and promoting culinary tourism in Africa. Now in it's third year, the Jollof Rice War also discovers young African chefs with the aim of launching them into culinary stardom. The culinary war has become increasingly popular not only among jollof rice lovers and culinary experts, but also among hoteliers as well as travel and tourism professionals. The JRW III will feature up to 20 professional chefs from all over West Africa, and will include commis chefs, sous chefs and even executive chefs. They will be locking horns with one another at the West African chef challenge on 22 September, 2019. Judges have been carefully selected from the non-competing regions of Africa including East Africa and South Africa. There'll be no rigging and the server will not be compromised. The Third Jollof Rice War is coming, and it's going to be 'brutal'. Are you ready? 5. Much More of the Usuals The 2019 edition will host even more of investment-ready exhibitors as well as ready-to-buy delegates. If you're looking to expand your existing travel and tourism business or establish a new one, the 2019 Akwaaba ATM will provide you with a perfect platform to network with like minds. A host of travel and tourism experts, professionals, and influencers from across the world will deliberate on topical issues affecting the travel and tourism industry in Africa. If you are a young travel and tourism professional, the 2019 Akwaaba will offer you the opportunity to listen to and actively engage with seasoned experts and senior colleagues, drawing from their wealth of knowledge. It will be a rewarding experience. The Aviation Day on 24 September will focus on the "Impact of Airport Development and Airlines on Tourism Growth". Seasoned aviation experts and professionals have been assembled to discuss and deliberate with a view of finding the much needed mutually beneficial relationship between aviation and tourism. The Aviation Day is star-studded, and you don't want to miss it. The 15th Akwaaba ATM will also feature the 3rd edition of the Akwaaba Youth Tourism Conference taking place on 24 September. The conference will deliberate on the sustainability of tourism as a business for the youths. If you're a youth interested in travel and tourism, the conference will give you insight on how to grow beyond passion and convert your travel and tourism potentials into sustainable profit-oriented business. For those who love freebies like me, a lot more of exciting prizes will be won during the 2019 Akwaaba ATM, courtesy of more exhibitors and trade partners. Whether you plan to win a business class ticket to Dubai or a luxury boat cruise in the Caribbean, or an all expense paid holiday in Seychelles, just come with your business card and don't forget to bring your luck! In Conclusion The Akwaaba African Travel Market is a one-stop meeting point for serious and genuine players in the travel and tourism industry. The Akwaaba ATM satisfies your curious mind and quenches your tourism passion, but there's much more - the business potentials. So weather you want to make new business contacts, close a business deal or just catch up with old business associates, the 15th Akwaaba African Travel Market will be your one-stop shop. And from all indications, it will be a BIG DEAL. The 2019 Akwaaba ATM will hold from 22 to 24 September at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. To make sure you don’t miss out, register to attend by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +234 814 628 8455/+234 803 305 6095. Chidozie Uzoezie is a Travel and Tourism Blogger, Content Creator and a Feelance Writer. He's the CEO of The Afritraveller, Africa's trendy travel and tourism blog.