Ikechi Uko, the organizer and convener of the AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market, has said that there is a lack of the people who will lead Nigeria’s travel industry in the next generation and has encouraged major players in the field to mentor people for this task.
He also encouraged the players in the tourism industry to invest in educational and medical tourism, saying that it is the future of tourism in Nigeria.
At Monday’s session of the ongoing 19th AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market, Uko, while speaking on Nigeria’s tourism industry, lamented about the lack of young mentees saying, “For a lot of countries in Africa, I asked them, please can you nominate 2 or 3 people in your country that you think are pioneers, inspirational. We gave them the terms and the conditions and our criteria.
“Unfortunately, most countries couldn’t nominate one person. I didn’t just ask one person, I asked like 10. And why is it that there is nobody here? ‘Oh, the young ones, I don’t think they deserve it, I don’t think they’re good enough, they’re not detailed’, everybody has complaints.
“Then I went on that and I got back to them and I asked them questions. Now, if the young ones are not good enough, how many do you mentor? Can you tell me one person that you mentored that you could say, I picked this person and I put him here. So, I reversed it. Don’t complain. Tell me someone you have mentored that can take over. If those of us who pioneered this thing in Africa, if we walk away, who takes over?”
He then encouraged the major players in the industries to train up the youths who will be in line to replace them in the work that they are doing, He said, “The problem is not the problem of the youths. It is the problem of those of us who had gone through those doors. Yeah, we pay the price. How many people are we leading to walk into the place of the future?”
“It’s not just in this industry. The next generation problem in Africa is real. The only place we are not having that problem is probably in FinTech. In most other industries that I’ve been to, they’re having a problem of creating stars for the next generation.”
However, Uko went on to speak to the players in the tourism industry, saying, “The future of tourism in Nigeria is going towards two things. Education and Medical. Education has always been there. The more people get successful, the more they care about their health, the more they care about what they eat. They want to enjoy what work they do.”
Uko then said, “For you, we just brought a new business, one billion dollars’ worth of business out of Nigeria, and it is going to grow. So, if you’re in tourism business, you just do leisure and business travelling, you don’t do medical, you’re missing something.”
The 19TH AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market which is ongoing, is taking place at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos State. Over 30 exhibitors are present at this event, displaying different aspects of the tourism, medical, and hospitality industry.
The governor of Calabar state, Bassey Otu, opened Monday’s event, using the opportunity to reveal the theme for Calabar Carnival 2023 as “Season of Sweetness.” Also present at the day’s events were the governor of Cross-River State, Bassey Otu; publisher of guardian, Maiden Alex Ibru; Former permanent secretary of Lagos state ministry of tourism, arts and culture, Princess Adenike Adedoyin-Ajayi; the African-American Tourism Ambassador, Diallo Sumbry, in Ghana, amongst other dignitaries.