The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa held its 61st Regional Tourism Conference in Abuja, capital of Nigeria between June 4 and 5, 2018. The South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Derek Andre Hanekom, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time, was one of the more than 20 ministers and 500 delegates from 34 countries who attended the conference.
On the 6th of June 2018, the minister, on his way back to South Africa, stopped by in Lagos and hosted some members of the media, trade &and other stakeholders to an exclusive dinner at Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
The South African Tourism Trade Relations Manager (West Africa), Mr. Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa, who stood in for the Hub Head, Mr. Hloni Pitso, who was on study leave at the time, welcomed the guests and introduced the Minister and his wife as well the Consul General of South Africa in Lagos, Ambassador Darkey Africa, who accompanied the Minister to the dinner.
The honourable minister, underscoring the pivotal position that Nigeria occupies in South Africa’s tourism marketing plan as well as the historical bond between West Africa and South Africa, opened the discussions. He requested for an open and transparent dialogue on the tourism sector with focus on the flow of traffic between West Africa and South Africa.
Guests enjoyed a savoury South African inspired three-course dinner, though the Minister had insisted on a local Nigerian dish. Going by the pleasant experiences and stories shared across the table that night, it was unanimous that South Africa is a world-class tourism destination, rich in taste, culture and experiences.
However, the major trust of contributions made by the majority of the media and key trade travel partners at the dinner centered on the recurring challenges that applicants encounter when processing South African visa.
Responding, the minister assured all present that considering the importance of the West African market to South African Tourism, a lot was already being done to address the issue.
He said: “We are fully aware of the situation and have set several things in motion to ease the processing of South African Visa in Nigeria. We are working towards eventually having an e-visa regime. We want to modernize the systems and ease the burdens. We are also working on a way of using the fact that someone has a valid visa of countries like USA, U.K. on his or her passport etc. as a criteria to speed up the visa application process for such a person.”
In his contribution, Ambassador Darkey Africa, said as a consulate they were also aware of the visa situation and on their part, they are working determinedly with their colleagues in the Home Affairs Ministry in South Africa to ensure that Nigerians enjoy better and more seamless regime of processing South African visa at the shortest possible time.
He, however, advised that applicants should always submit their applications on time and with the appropriate supporting documents as this will make it easier for the process to be more seamless for everyone’s good. The need for more socio-cultural exchanges between South Africa and the countries in West Africa was suggested by Mr. Obinna Emelike of The Business Day Newspaper and it was generally agreed that such exchanges will go a long way to strengthen the historical bond between South Africa and West Africa.
One of the major highlights of the evening was the appreciation expressed by Nigeria travel agents to Ambassador Darkey Africa for the open-door policy that he had operated since his assumption of office and the very kind gestures that he has continued to express towards the travel agents in Nigeria. The Nigerian tour operators also presented Mr. Hanekom with a Nigerian artifact.
In closing, Minister Hanekom called for greater regional cooperation and for Africans to work together to ensure ease of travel and the continued growth of tourism across the continent. He also promised that the short visa duration currently being given to frequent travellers will be looked into and reviewed. Mr. Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa gave a vote of thanks and the dinner was brought to an end, after which group pictures were taken with the ever cheerful Mr. Derek Hanekom and his wife.
South African Airways (SAA) Africa’s most awarded airline has urged corporate travel managers in Nigeria to take advantage of the airline’s incredible new Voyager – SAA frequent flyers’ reward system in flying from Lagos to Johannesburg, South Africa and beyond.
South African Airways recently held a Corporate Travel Managers forum in Lagos during which Kemi Leke-Bamtefa, National Sales Manager, South African Airways explained the new Voyager reward system to credit passengers with miles based on the amount of airfare and fuel levy rather than the travel distance or cabin class.
According to Kemi, “South African Airways is always prioritising the welfare of its passengers hence, our new Voyager reward is now based on the amount of airfare and fuel levy rather than the travel distance or cabin class. For every N48 you spend flying South African Airways, you are guaranteed 1 Mile.”
“In addition, South African Airways also offer corporate travel managers super corporate deals up to 14% with seamless upgrades, priority boarding, priority waitlist and lounge access as part of the many rewards attached,” Kemi added.
South African Airways opened its doors for corporate travel managers to leverage the incredible advantage of flying the airline through either a tripartite partnership which involves the airline, the corporate and a travel management company or otherwise a direct partnership between the airline and the corporates.
The airline reminded the corporates aside flying the Lagos-Johannesburg route with the new A330-300 aircraft with exceptional configurations in both the Business and Economy cabins, passengers do not also require transit visa travelling beyond South Africa to other Southern Africa countries including Mauritius, Maputo, Harare and more where South African Airways has route network.
Sulyman Akinwande of South African Airways Cargo, a subsidiary of South African Airways highlighted the functions of SAA Cargo to include the air freight of general, specialised cargoes and courier services from Lagos across the world.
Mohammed Kwajaffa, Trade Relations Manager, West Africa at South African Tourism showcased South Africa as a fun and adventurous destination rated as the 5th most beautiful country in the world by a recent international ratings report.
South African Airways presented amazing rewards to corporates at the forum which includes a Business Class ticket and free upgrade from Economy to Business Class from Lagos to any destination in South Africa.
Recently, a delegation from South Africa’s Kaya 95.9 FM visited Nigeria in what CEO Greg Maloka described as “a bid to know our backyard a little better.” Maloka and his team spent the better part of a week in Lagos where among other activities, they were hosted to lunch at the Lagos Motorboat Club, Ikoyi, by the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation’s ‘Tour Nigeria’ brand.
Kaya FM is the biggest independent radio station in Guateng, South Africa’s most populous province which includes Johannesburg, Pretoria and other cities, and reflects the experiences of the predominantly black, urban listener between the ages 25 to 49 living in the province.
The decades-long apartheid policy previously practiced by European minorities in South Africa meant the country was isolated from the comity of nations including neighboring African countries for years.
So despite over two decades of democratic rule, the process of assimilation for South Africa and its citizens into the international is still ongoing. Currently, many South Africans still say they are “going to Africa” whenever they step out of their borders and travel to neighboring countries.
According to Maloka, “To accept you’re part of a continent, you need to understand the continent not just by geography, but its heart.”
And rather than depend on Western media for news and happenings in Nigeria, the Kaya FM team decided to discover Nigeria by themselves and give first-hand information to their considerably large base of listeners.
With one million weekly views on Youtube, Kaya FM is in a great position to help advance South Africa’s integration with the rest of the continent.
“Our responsibility is to shape people’s opinions and where there is prejudice, to change people’s opinion as well. We are here in Nigeria to see things through our own eyes , I mean African eyes . We do not want to report from the colonial eyes which has been the order of the day and which is not only subjective, but only sees and magnifies the amenable negative occurrences in Nigeria.’’ Maloka revealed.
Already, there’s a healthy business relationship between Nigeria and South Africa, with many South African brands now household names in Nigeria. On the leisure front however, the trend has been for Nigerian travellers to explore the tourism attractions that the South African economy hugely benefits from. Our organisation was endeared to Nigeria by the professional approach adopted by the Director – General , NTDC , Mr Folarin Coker at selling Nigeria and placing her tourism potentialities on the international market with territorial finesse , African cosmopolitanism as regards identity appreciation and sincerity of purpose through its successful Tour Nigeria brand.
However, the visit of Kaya FM executives is an indication that South Africans are curious about – and willing to explore – Nigeria and its unique culture expressed through film, music, art, fashion, food and more. This coincides with a renewed drive by the Nigerian government to explore tourism as a vehicle for economic empowerment.
“We were able to venture out by ourselves. This is not such a structured visit,” Maloka explained against the backdrop of negative perceptions regarding security peddled by some sections of the Western media.
“A lot of South Africans are coming on a steady basis and are clued into the vibrancy of Lagos,” he explained going further to enunciate the team’s appreciation for Nigeria’s culinary offerings, including the sumptuous dishes on offer at the Boat Club.
There was a special mention for the Nok by Alara restaurant in Victoria. The team was so impressed, they had to go back for more.
Reflecting on the uniqueness of Africa’s most populous country, Maloka noted that “everything in Nigeria is Nigerian” and the citizens need to be proud of that. “If you ask a South African what is really South African, we struggle.”
Leading on from that, the team was asked to point out the uniquely Nigerian attributes that would attract a tourist from South Africa.
“I am no tourism expert but what I would say is that we have an opportunity to create a totally new way of selling Africa,” Maloka proffered.
“If we take the Western way which has always been in existence, we are not going to win because it isn’t our system and because it is infrastructure based, like selling a beach, selling a hotel, selling tangible things that people touch and feel.
Mr Maloka said that Kaya FM, South – Africa ‘Is creating an intra-continental business tourism unity and relationship which will be a win – win for the two countries
“It will be very difficult to sell infrastructure. What we have to sell is the soul of a place. How do you package the soul of a nation and present it? I don’t want to come to Nigeria to come and view the buildings, or drive on the highways but I want to come to Nigeria because I want to be Nigerian for a week.
“I want to leave with a new name like ‘Oga Chairman’. I want to leave with new clothes (I had these made here). I want to leave with new friends, new memories. If I meet anyone of you anywhere in the world, I need to be able to be Nigerian with you because I have lived with you, rather than visit your infrastructure.”
For him and the rest of the team, leaving with the conversations, with dance, with music, with culture, with artefacts, are the things that make memories indelible.
There is a thirst for more things Nigerian in South Africa, according to the delegation. So despite Nigerian music ruling the airwaves in South Africa, there’s room for more.
“We play a lot more Nigerian music now than we did before. We’ve played so much of it, we’ve started to want something else within the Nigerian space. For instance, I want the jazz scene of Nigeria. I don’t know it.
“If I represent a station like Kaya that has jazz as its essence, and someone from New York came to me and said, ‘tell me what the Nigerian jazz scene is like’, I would be lost. We would like to see other forms and other genres of music from Nigeria.”
The Kaya tour of Lagos could not have come at the better time, ahead of the Christmas celebrations which Lagos – the entertainment capital of Africa – is famous for. With conducive weather in December and a medley of concerts featuring Nigeria’s topmost entertainers (who also double as the continent’s leading lights), December is a great time for other African’s to feel the city’s pulse.
David O’Sullivian, a member of Kaya’s delegation to Nigeria said; “We are here on a voyage of discovery, a voyage of obtaining firsthand information for a better perspective. A voyage that will lead to perception modification and correction. We are committed to ensure a phenomenal rise, leap and increase in tourists’ traffic from South – Africa to Nigeria. We want to reverse the Nigeria – visit South – Africa without a corresponding positive story of South – Africans visit Nigeria . This is unbalanced cultural – economic scenario which cannot foster sustainable and lasting economic relationship and brotherhood hood between the two countries.’’
Brenda Modibane, the station’s Business Development and Marketing Manager, pointed out: “From my short stay in Nigeria, it is evident that South–Africans have a lot to see, to gain and to learn from Nigeria . Our incursion into this wonderful country is an eye opener to the vast opportunities open for South – Africans which we shall properly market to them.”
The Director General of the NTDC, Folorunso Folarin-Coker said “It takes a great mind to understand the socio-cultural international conspiracy against Africa which is being perpetrated through some intercontinental mega media. It is also a matter of great valour for another media giant to rise swiftly and embark on positive intra-continental perception reengineering that is of sustainable mutual benefit.
“On this, I give a warm African kudos and salute to Kaya FM 95.9 for rising stoutly in a rare Pan African information balancing stride between two most distinguished African countries,’’ he said.
He revealed that ‘Tour Nigeria’ was as a result of a painstaking deliberation and deep thinking of how best to enhance and add value to domestic tourism and thankful that Tour Nigeria has not only been embraced by Nigerians, but has been acknowledged internationally. I assure you of our impregnable and profitable support by opening and oiling the corridor of tourism business network , collation of meetings , facilitation of constructive interaction with sectoral leaders of thought and means , movers of the creative industry , leaders of night factories and those whose business and concerns will be of interest to South–Africans.”