In less than three weeks, the 15th Akwaaba ATM will open its doors to local and international delegates at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos. If you're a regular at the annual travel and tourism show, you're probably just as regular as Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, popularly known as Dubai Tourism. 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 fresh impetus and momentum, more business, a glimpse of Dubai and perhaps, a surprise.
Larger Than Life Dignitaries
Perhaps, one of the most remarkable things about the 15th Akwaaba ATM is the quality of the dignitaries who have already confirmed their attendance at the annual travel and tourism show. To make good things even better, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Nigeria, and the CEO of Dubai Tourism will lead the Dubai delegation to the 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market.
Other dignitaries on the Dubai Delegation include Issam Kazim CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing; Stella Obinwa Director Africa, International Operations; Shae Brotherton -Senior Manager Integrated Experience Management; Tareq Binbrek Senior Associate, International Operations; Salim Ali Mohamed Dahman Senior Manager Campaigns, Campaign Management and Janelle Lewis Senior Manager, International Communications, PR and Communications.
What to Expect at The Stands
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. With about 22 travel and tourism companies and a high-powered delegation confirmed for this year's edition, Dubai is already on course to break its own record.
Just to mention a few, some of the companies coming to the Akwaaba ATM this year include Mida Travels, Pacific Destination Tourism, Palazzo Versace Hotel, Red Apple Middle East Tourism, Royal Arabian Destination Management The Ritz Carlton Dubai, W Hotel Palm Jumeirah, Wings Tours Gulf, Emaar Hospitality Group, Avani Deira Dubai Hotel, VPS Group, Dubai Health Authority, Expo2020, Rayna Tourism, and Jumeirah Group
With the physical presence of the CEO of Dubai Tourism, Issam Kazim, who will be attending the annual show for the first time, there's definitely going to be fresh impetus, more gut, and renewed momentum. There'll be more glamour, and there'll be much more business. Naturally, the confidence level will be high and the lineup is expected to be very intimidating. The stakes are very high, and there's even more competition, so I won't be surprised to see Dubai raise the bar again.
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 if you don't have enough, today might be a good time to talk to your printer.
A Glimpse of Dubai
Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing will take the centre stage in the morning of 23 September under the theme 'A glimpse of Dubai’. The breakfast show will feature up to 22 travel and tourism companies from Dubai. In attendance will be a high-powered delegation from Dubai including his Excellency Fahad Obaid Mohammad Al Taffaq, the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, and Issam Kazim, the CEO of Dubai Tourism. Proceedings at the breakfast meeting will be facilitated and coordinated by the Director International Operations - Africa, Stella Fubara who is from Nigeria.
The high-powered delegation from the DTCM will engage Nigeria and Africa on Destination Dubai. In addition to ultimately selling Dubai to Nigerians and Africans, the Dubai day will also feature business-to-customer meetings as well as business-to-business meetings. Plenary and private meetings will be held to discuss ways to strengthen business ties between Nigeria and the UAE especially with respect to travel and tourism. And beyond travel and tourism, the Dubai Tourism team will make a concerted effort to sell Dubai even to non-tourism players.
However you look at it, the Dubai day will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders. New business connections will be made, new business deals will be signed while new commercial relationships will be established. The short-term result will be an immediate improvement in trade volumes and profitability. While the long-term result will be an improved economy for both countries. Nigeria wins, Dubai wins, thanks to the Akwaaba African Travel Market.
A little expo: As if to say 'thank you for coming', there'll be raffle draws and two lucky winners or even more, will be going home with tickets for a free trip to Dubai. Please do come with your business cards and some luck, you'll definitely need the two.
Like Oliver Twist, Like Dubai Tourism
Statistics don't lie. At least, that's what they say. According to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), Dubai welcomed 8.36 million international visitors in the first six months (January-June) of 2019. The figure translates to a positive 3% growth in tourism volume compared to the same period last year. That figure was bolstered by the 28% year-on-year growth from Nigeria as one of the rapidly growing emerging markets pushing into the top 20 bracket for the first time in 2019.
By all standards, Dubai is an incredibly beautiful city offering endless fun and excitement. For most Nigerians, Dubai is the new London and the new New York. The city combines the breathtaking views of New York's skyscrapers and the cosmopolitan nature of London. For various reasons which include tourism, meetings and conferences, shopping, jobs, and even destination weddings, Nigerian troop into Dubai in their thousands on a daily basis.
With up to 5 daily flights and over 15 indirect flights between Nigeria and Dubai at the moment, it's obvious that Dubai has become the biggest Destination for Nigerian leisure travellers. Arguably, Nigeria is the major driver of the recent impressive growth recorded by Dubai tourism in sub-saharan Africa. It is believed that over 300,000 Nigerians travel to or through Dubai every year.
With the effort Dubai Tourism has made at the Akwaaba ATM and other events in the past few years, Nigeria has become a fertile ground for them, making Dubai an easy sale. The 15th Akwaaba ATM will be another marketing opportunity for the Dubai Tourism team to sell Dubai as the tourism destination of choice for Nigerians. And like Oliver Twist, Dubai Tourism team will definitely be asking for more.
Dates or no Dates
In 2017, I tried and loved Dubai Tourism's roasted dates which they served guests, but in 2018, there wasn't any to my utter 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 knows how to establish its supremacy over the competition. They like calling the shots. They called the shots in 2018. Will they call the shots again in 2019? We will soon find out.
The 2019 Akwaaba ATM will hold from 22 to 24 September, 2019 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. To make sure you don’t miss out, register to attend by sending email to email@example.com or call +234 814 628 8455.
Chidozie Uzoezie is a Travel and Tourism Blogger and a Freelance Writer. He's the CEO of The Afritraveller Blog, and the Admin of the African Aviation Group.