West Africa’s biggest tourism expo, Akwaaba, African Travel Market has continued to be a melting point for tourism destination marketers, as new figures released by the Gambian Tourism Board revealed that air arrival from Nigeria increased by 39 per cent compared with previous years.
Adama Njie, director of Marketing, Gambia, affirmed that African Travel Market (AFTM) popularly known as Akwaaba, an annual organised travel and tour event remains one of the utmost important trade fairs to Destination Gambia.
In an interview with thepoint.gm, an online medium, Njie outlined the importance of the African Travel Market trade fair to the destination since the country rejoined Akwaaba in 2018. According to record, he said air arrivals for Nigerian Market 2015 and 2018 revealed that the 2018 has the highest total increase air arrival “with 39 per cent increase compared with previous years.”
He went further that among non-traditional markets arrival from January to December 2018, there were 77,109, an increase of 21 per cent compared with January to December 2017 arrivals of 63,492. From this non-traditional markets figures, “Nigerian and American markets top the list of arrivals by nationalities from the non-traditional in 2018 both accounting for 7 per cent” followed by other markets.
Adama Njie who was among the three-panelist that deliberated on ‘The Role of DMCs and DMOs in Sustainable Destination Marketing in Africa’ at the 14th edition of AFTM in 2018 explained that Gambia got a decline in number of arrivals from Nigeria when the destination (Gambia) seized to participate in the Akwaaba Travel Market “but The Gambia rejoining the AFTM is now a plus to the country as we are gradually picking up again.” The Gambia team to this popular and renowned travel and trade exhibition will be led by the director general of GTBoard, Abdoullahi Hydara and to be accompanied by other stakeholders in the like of NCAC, GTHI, ITTOG, GIA, Aviation and Tour Operators among others.
Ikechi Uko, organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Abuja Jabamah, Accra Weizo and Banjul Bantaba commended Gambia Tourism Board under Ministry of Tourism and culture for taking the bold step and rejoined the AFTM in 2018.
He disclosed that The Gambia with its brand equity has opportunity to occupy its space as far as tourism is concern in West Africa.
He stated that there are six popular events that dominated and have brand equity in West Africa which The Gambia is one of them, this he named “Dak’Art in Senegal which is for visual arts; FESPACO in Burkina Faso for movies; PANAFEST for culture in Ghana; AKWAABA, Nigeria for tourism; ROOTS Festival in The Gambia (slated for December 2020) and Carnival Calabar in Nigeria.”