Archive | May, 2010

ATA Announces Tourism Industry Milestones Made at the 35th Annual Congress

24 May

AFRICA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION CONGRESS IN THE GAMBIA ENDS WITH PLEDGE TO BUILD NEW PARTNERSHIPS FOR TOURISM DEVELOPMENT

BANJUL, THE GAMBIA, May 20, 2010 – The Africa Travel Association’s 35th Annual Congress ended today with a commitment among Africa’s tourism stakeholders to boost efforts to develop new public-private partnerships devoted to advocating for and developing the tourism industry in Africa. Honorable Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, The Gambia Minister of Tourism and Culture and incoming ATA President, closed the event that was attended by more than 300 participants as well as press from Africa, Europe and North America.

In her closing remarks, the Minister highlighted the importance of tourism as an engine for economic growth and prosperity. She also said, “This may mark the end of a successful event, but it also marks the beginning of our joint efforts to work in partnership with the public and private sector to promote the travel and tourism industry to and within Africa. The Gambia was a proud host of this event and hopes that our infectious spirit will inspire other countries and tourism stakeholders to action.”

At the meeting, ATA announced a number of milestones for making a strong case for increased investment in the tourism industry.” ATA members and friends and supporters have shown that we are truly committed to promoting tourism to Africa as a means to promoting socio-economic development,” said Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director. “I know that when we return to our home countries, we will continue to work in partnership with tourism stakeholders in the public and private sectors to promote the industry and inspire others to follow our example.”

Congress milestones include the following:

* The announcement of the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the African Union and ATA. The MOU, which was signed by Honorable Shamsa Mwangunga, outgoing ATA President, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim, Africa Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, declares that the two organizations will undertake a commitment to develop collaboration in the area of travel and tourism promotion.

* The launch of a joint effort by New York University’s Africa House, the World Bank and ATA to make a case for developing Africa’s tourism industry with the preparation of the joint publication The State of Tourism in Africa. Using facts, figures and stories, the report paints a picture of the current and potential impact of tourism on both a country’s and a region’s development strategy. The report also advocates for increased attention and resource allocation from national governments to the tourism industry.

* During the industry workshops and networking events, ATA and UNWTO engaged in discussions on how the two global organizations would pursue collaboration and cooperation in the areas of travel and tourism development in Africa in the future.

* The Gambia Organizing Committee announced its commitment to hosting the first “Carbon Off-Set Free” ATA congress. In addition to planting seedlings to grow an “ATA Forest” at the GIG Forest, the Committee limited the “carbon footprint” of the congress by ordering produce from the award-winning project Gambia is Good. GIG sources all its produce from local producers.

As a sign of his commitment to developing The Gambia’s tourism industry, the President of The Republic of the Gambia, Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhaji Yaya A. J. J. Jammeh, hosted the delegates at a number of special events, including a visit to his home village, Kanilai, and a gala dinner and evening of entertainment at the Sheraton Hotel Spa and Resort.

In what has become an ATA congress tradition over the last few years, Shamsa Mwangunga (MP), ATA President and Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism of the United Republic of Tanzania hosted a special evening of dinner and dancing held at the five-star Ocean Bay Hotel.

On the first of two Host Country days, delegates visited James lsland and Juffureh. James Island is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was a base of transportation of slaves from The Gambia to other parts of the world. At James Island, delegates participated in a special memorial, in which they floated flower wreathes down the River Gambia and stood in a moment of silence. Delegates were also asked to consider making a donation for the restoration of the jetty to James Island. The project was organized in cooperation with U.S. Ambassador Barry Wells.

Following the day-long visit to James Island and Juffreh, the delegates enjoyed a special cocktail reception at the luxury hotel, Coco Ocean Resort and Spa. The evening event was co-hosted by the US Ambassador to The Gambia, Honorable Barry Wells.

Under the banner “Discover Africa’s Genuine Warmth,” the ATA-Gambia event brought together tourism ministers and more than 300 travel industry professionals from across Africa, Europe and North America for four days to explore the latest issues facing the travel trade industry, learn about “Destination Gambia,” and advocate for increased resources to the tourism industry.

During the congress, delegates explored the following industry topics: Sustainable Tourism in The Gambia, Innovative and Interactive Marketing, Niche Markets and Emerging Trends, Standards in the Hotel Market in Africa, Connecting the Africa Diaspora to Destination Africa, and Hospitality and Tourism Education in Africa. Special sessions were held on tourism and development, advocating for tourism resources, and partnerships with airlines serving Africa.

For pictures and video, please visit ATA’s Facebook Fan Page.

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ATA Congress News & Views Volume 2

24 May

IN THIS ISSUE

Recap of the ATA Congress

News

* ATA Congress Ends with Pledge to Build New Partnership for Tourism Development

* The Gambia Minister of Tourism and Culture Named New ATA President

* United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Attends the ATA Congress

* New York University-Africa House, the World Bank and ATA Release Joint Publication

* Delegates Explore Latest Industry Topics

* ATA Presents Awards at the Farewell Dinner at the Senegambia Hotel

* The Gambia President Welcomes Delegates to the “Smiling Coast of Africa”

* ATA Goes Green and Offsets its Carbon “Footprint” in The Gambia

* Gambia Organizing Committee Declares a “Sustainable ATA Congress”

* Delegates Support James Island Restoration Project

* U.S. Ambassador and Coco Ocean Resort and Spa Host Evening Reception

The Gambia Congress in the Media

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RECAP OF THE ATA CONGRESS

This is the last issue of ATA Gambia Congress News & Views, the e-newsletter of ATA’s 35th Annual Congress at the Sheraton Hotel Spa & Resort in The Gambia from May 17-20, 2010. We hope you enjoyed the two e-newsletters, the adjoining congress ATA blog and congress updates on our ATA Facebook Fan Page. We also hope you’ll visit the Gambia Organizing Committee ATA Gambia Facebook Page. Thanks in large part to your participation and support, the congress was a great success and The Gambia’s hospitality was welcomed and enjoyed by all of us.

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NEWS

ATA Congress Ends with Pledge to Build New Partnership for Tourism Development

Thursday, May 20, 2010 – ATA’s 35th Annual Congress ended on Thursday with a commitment among Africa’s tourism stakeholders to boost efforts to develop new public-private partnerships devoted to advocating for and developing the tourism industry in Africa. Honorable Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, The Gambia Minister of Tourism and Culture and incoming ATA President, closed the event that was attended by more than 300 participants as well as press from Africa, Europe and North America… (To read eTurboNews coverage, click here.)

The Gambia Minister of Tourism and Culture Named New ATA President

Thursday, May 20, 2010 – Honorable Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture of The Gambia, was selected as President of ATA at the conclusion of ATA’s 35th Annual Congress at the Sheraton Hotel Spa and Resort by the incoming ATA Board of Directors that was elected in the afternoon. The Minister succeeds Honorable Shamsa Mwangunga, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism of the United Republic of Tanzania, who was appointed ATA President in May 2008 at the 33rd Annual Congress in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Minister began her thank you remarks by saying she was honored to be named President. She then outlined three areas of priority for ATA during her presidency. “We need to help the Board of Directors ensure that we have sufficient funds to produce events; we have to be very aggressive in the membership drive; and we have to make sure that the members actively participate in the association.”

To accomplish these goals, the Minister asked for “the support of all of the members of ATA and the whole of Africa.” She concluded by congratulating ATA on a successful congress and thanking everybody for their support. (Click here for pictures.)

United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Attends the ATA Congress

Thursday, May 20, 2010 – The United Nations Tourism Organization (UNWTO) attended the Africa Travel Association’s 35th Annual Congress at the Sheraton Hotel Spa and Resort in The Gambia from May 17-20, 2010. More than 300 participants from Africa, Europe and North America, as well as the press, also attended the travel trade conference. During the workshops and networking events, ATA and UNWTO engaged in discussions on how the two global organizations would pursue collaboration and cooperation in the areas of travel and tourism development in Africa in the future… (Click here for full press release.)

New York University-Africa House, the World Bank and ATA Release Joint Publication

Thursday, May 20, 2010 – Based on a call to action from Dr. Yaw Nyarko, Director of the Africa House at New York University, during ATA’s 34th Annual Cairo in Egypt, ATA announced the launch of a joint effort by New York University’s Africa House, the World Bank and ATA to make a case for developing Africa’s tourism industry with the preparation of the joint publication The State of Tourism in Africa. Using facts, figures and stories, the report paints a picture of the current and potential impact of tourism on both a country’s and a region’s development strategy. The report also advocates for increased attention and resource allocation from national governments to the tourism industry. (Email: info@africatravelassociaton.org for a copy.)

Delegates Explore Latest Industry Topics

Thursday, May 20, 2010 – Delegates explored the latest travel trade industry topics in the following plenaries, workshops and sessions: Models of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism in The Gambia, Innovative and Interactive Marketing (Tools for the Tourism Industry), Niche Markets and Emerging Trends, Standards in the Hotel Market in Africa, Connecting the Africa Diaspora to Destination Africa, and Hospitality and Tourism Education in Africa. Special sessions were held on tourism and development, advocating for tourism resources, and partnerships with airlines serving Africa. The congress also offered a forum for the Young Professionals Network, an ATA Business-to-Business Exchange for Buyers and Sellers, and The Gambia Marketplace. (Click here to view program; click here for pictures of business exchange and marketplace.)

ATA Presents Awards at Farewell Dinner at the Senegambia Hotel

Thursday, May 20, 2010 – At the farewell dinner at the Senegambia Beach Hotel, ATA presented a number of awards to the following leading travel and trade professionals serving Africa. (Click here for pictures.)

2010 Outstanding Service to the Organization
Honorable Fatou Mass Jobe Njie, Secretary of State for Tourism & Culture, The Gambia

2010 Outstanding Service to the Organization
Kaliba Senghore, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, The Gambia

2010 Outstanding Achievement, Development of Responsible Tourism in the Continent
CDC Development Solutions

2010 Outstanding Service to the Organization
Alieu Secka, Chairman, The Gambian Hotel Association

2010 Outstanding Leadership in Promotion of Responsible Tourism to the Continent
Dr. Yaw Nyarko, NYU Africa House

2010 Outstanding Leadership in ATA
Hon. Shamsa Selengia Mwangunga, Minister of Natural Resources & Tourism, United Republic of Tanzania, President, ATA

2010 Founders Award
Omar Carrera, Sheraton Addis

The Gambia President Welcomes Delegates to the “Smiling Coast of Africa”

Wednesday, May 19 – As a sign of his steadfast commitment to developing The Gambia’s tourism industry and tourism across Africa, President of The Republic of the Gambia, Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhaji Yaya A. J. J. Jammeh, hosted the delegates at a number of special events, including a visit to his home village, Kanilai, where everyone enjoyed traditional Gambian entertainment and cuisine. Later in the evening, the President surprised the delegates with a dinner reception at The Sheraton Gambia Hotel and Resort. Permanent Secretary of Tourism and Culture, Honorable Kaliba Senghore announced that President Jammeh “wanted to reward the delegates for making the long trip to see his home village.” Vice President Aja Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy attended the dinner on behalf of the President. The dinner celebration included an African buffet feast and live musicians playing African music. The Gambia also hosted two special evening events during the congress, including a welcome reception at the Kairaba Hotel and a farewell dinner at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.

ATA Goes Green and Off-Sets its Carbon “Footprint” in The Gambia

Wednesday, May 19 – Recognizing that tourism has a direct impact on the environment, the ATA Gambia Organizing Committee decided to raise awareness of responsible tourism and sustainable travel by opening the ATA Gambia Forest. Thanks to the support of GIG (Gambia is Good), a project funded and operated by Concern Universal, delegates planted seedlings for cashew and mahogany trees, which will help offset the Congress’s carbon footprint. This is the first time an ATA congress is carbon neutral. (Click here for more details; click here for pictures.)

Gambia Organizing Committee Declares a “Sustainable ATA Congress”

Wednesday, May 19 – The Gambia Organizing Committee announced its commitment to hosting the first “Carbon Off-Set Free” ATA congress. In addition to planting seedlings to grow an “ATA Forest” at the GIG Forest, the Committee limited the “carbon footprint” of the congress by ordering produce from the award-winning project Gambia is Good. GIG sources all its produce from local producers. “This is a win-win situation for ATA Gambia, the tourism industry and the local farming communities,” said Marcel Hendrikx, a Congress Committee member.

Delegates Support James Island Restoration Project

Tuesday, May 18 – On the first of two Host Country days, delegates visited James lsland and Juffureh. James Island is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was a base of transportation of slaves from The Gambia to other parts of the world. At James Island, delegates participated in a special memorial, in which they floated flower wreathes down the River Gambia and stood in a moment of silence. Delegates were also asked to consider making a donation for the restoration of the jetty to James Island. The project was organized in cooperation with U.S. Ambassador Barry Wells. (Click here for pictures.) Click here to read more about the delegates’ trip to James Island and Juffreh

U.S. Ambassador and Coco Ocean Resort and Spa Host Evening Reception

Tuesday, May 18 – Following the day-long visit to James Island, the delegates enjoyed a special cocktail reception at the brand new luxury hotel, Coco Ocean Resort and Spa. The evening event was co-hosted by the US Ambassador to The Gambia, Honorable Barry Wells and the U.S. Embassy Banjul, The Gambia. (Click here to read interview with the Ambassador.)

*** *** ***

Delegate Profiles

Darius Cappelli, Travel Trade Journalist, Travel World News

Diego Lofeudo, Director of Market Management, Eastern Mediterranean and Africa, Expedia

His Excellency Barry Wells, Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of The Gambia

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The Gambia Congress in the Media

WorldTourismDirectory.com
Africa Travel Association Congress in Gambia ends with pledge to build new partnerships for tourism development

ForImmediateRelease.net
Africa Travel Association Congress in Gambia ends with pledge to build new partnerships for tourism development

eTurboNews
UNWTO and ATA Discuss Ways to Cooperate with Tourism Development; United Nations World Tourism Organization attend Africa Travel Association Congress in the Gambia

Afranblog
Tourism Tipped as Driver of Gambia’s Socio-Economic Growth

Promotional Video on the Congress YouTube
Click here.

THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION (UNWTO) ATTENDS THE AFRICA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION (ATA) CONGRESS IN THE GAMBIA

24 May

UNWTO and ATA Discuss Ways to Cooperate with Tourism Development

BANJUL, THE GAMBIA, May 20, 2010 – – The United Nations Tourism Organization attended the Africa Travel Association’s 35th Annual Congress at the Sheraton Hotel Spa and Resort in The Gambia from May 17-20, 2010. More than 300 participants from Africa, Europe and North America, as well as the press, also attended the travel trade conference.

During the industry plenaries and networking events, ATA and UNWTO engaged in discussions on how the two global organizations would pursue collaboration and cooperation in the areas of travel and tourism development in Africa in the future.

ATA Executive Director Edward Bergman said, “We are pleased that UNWTO participated in our Gambia congress and we look forward to continuing discussions with the UN agency on how to build a case for tourism in Africa.”

Mr. Bergman went on to say “We are especially pleased that this discussion takes place in parallel to our discussions with the Africa Union on how we can promote travel, tourism and hospitality to “Destination Africa.”

Mr. Helder Tomas from the UNWTO Regional Program for Africa participated in the event on behalf of UNWTO. He arrived in The Gambia immediately following the 50th UNWTO Commission for Africa Meeting in Algiers, Algeria from May 17-19, 2010.

Mr. Tomas stressed the importance of the cooperation between the public and the private sectors for the development of tourism in Africa and the need for the sector to start speaking with one voice for the benefit of the industry.

The ATA Congress was hosted by The Gambian Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Gambian Hotel Association, and other Gambian stakeholders, including private and public sector members of the ATA Chapter in The Gambia.

“As a member state of UNWTO and as member of ATA, The Gambia is putting forth a strong proposal for the development of joint collaboration between the two organizations,” said Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Kaliba Senghore.

Visit to Historical Sites of James Island and Juffereh

22 May

On our first host country day in The Gambai, we took several buses to the Banjul port where we board our boats to James Island and Juffereh.

Background: James Island is known as one of the most significant sites in the history of the slave trade. Discovered in the 17th century, the British, Dutch and French repeatedly fought for control of the small island, because control of the island guaranteed control over the traffic on the River Gambia and a lion’s share of the region’s slave trade. Kunta Kinteh, made famous in Alex Haley’s Roots is said to have been transported to America from the island. The second place we visited was Juffereh, Kunta Kinteh’s home village and Alex Haley’s ancestral home. To read more about Juffereh, visit www.accessgambia.com/information/kunta-kinte-roots.html.

I used the 2 hour boat ride on the River Gambia as an opportunity to speak to as many delegates as possible about their experiences. I wound up getting even more than I had bargained for. The conversations between the delegates were fascinating. Everyone was acutely aware of the sad history that had occurred on the same river we were floating on.

I noticed that one man was wearing an “Amistad” hat and struck up a conversation. His name is Lamin Sarr, a Gambian currently based in the United States and he is the founder and President of the Heritage Revival Project. I asked if he had planned to wear the hat on this day of the Congress and he simply answered “Of course, slavery is my obsession”. Through his project, his goal is to facilitate African cultural tours as pilgrimages for the African Diaspora to reconnect them with their roots. He says that we have the responsibility to “complete the cycle of freedom”. When I asked him how this can be done, he simply said “we are doing it right now…returning to Africa and visiting sites such as James Island and Juffereh”.

On this note, a group of delegates began to discuss the return of the African Diaspora to Africa, which by chance, was the subject of one of the most popular workshops at the Congress. One of the most inspiring accounts of “completing the cycle of freedom” came from another ATA Delegate known as Chief Margaret from Nigeria. She shared a fascinating story with me and several other delegates. Her family had been taken from Nigeria as slaves after she was born. When she was an adult, a successful young business man with her same family name contacted her from America. Eventually he came to Nigeria to meet her and when I asked her what her very first impression was of this stranger she simply said “He was as tall as my father.” The man now lives in Nigeria and is a successful banker. Chief Margaret has met his whole family and considers their relationship “a miracle.”

An issue discussed by the delegates on the boat was that Africans were not “slaves”, rather they were enslaved.

After a long boat ride in the Gambian sun, we were all excited to arrive at James Island. We boarded small canoes and were brought to the island. My first impression was that I could not believe how small it was! I learned that because of erosion, it is about 1/6th of its original size, which is why it is so important that this historical site is preserved by organizations such as UNESCO. ATA delegates were generous to provide contributions to help restore the jetty that people walk on to get to the island. A ceremony was organized for us all where they unveiled a plaque acknowledging ATA’s contribution. ATA is still collected contributions for the jetty restoration, please contact info@africatravelassociation.org to find out how to donate. Then, we all received beautiful pink flowers that we set into the River Gambia after a moment of silence to remember all that has happened on the island. It was a beautiful day and I saw many people get very emotional, including myself.


See more pictures of our experience here!

Next we went to Juffereh. I am not sure what I expected, but when I think of a “historical site” I think of a place that is old, preserved, paused in time. But Juffereh was anything but. It is a vibrant, energetic community with schools, shops, and about 1,000 families. You would not believe the welcoming we received. Half the villiage must have been standing and waiting for the ATA delegation and each and every one of them shook out hands and looked us in the eyes and said “welcome”, a sentiment that was shared by every Gambian I met during my entire stay. The school children performed the national anthem for us and the Governor came to address the delegation and to welcome us. We then walked what seemed like miles and miles to meet the living members of the Kinteh family, all women, all beaming with pride and all very happy to meet us. The delegates shopped, visited the museum and we ate a huge African feast before we boarded our boats again to return.


See more pictures of our experience here!

Delegate Spotlight: Darius Cappelli

21 May

Name: Darius Cappelli
Title: Journalist
Organization: Travel World News
Location: Washington, DC

Q: What do you hope to gain from the Congress?
A: A better understanding of the state of tourism in Africa; some countries are doing better than others in tourism and I hope to gain a better understanding of the internal and external factors that contribute to it.

Q: What do you see as Africa’s greatest tourism asset?
A: Africa is a continent and varies greatly wherever you go. Cultures are different, what people want to see are different and there is a variety of food, history… Africa’s got a lot to offer and is undiscovered by a majority of people, especially in the US.

Q: What do you see as the industry’s greatest ally?
A: With the history of European colonialism, Europeans are more familiar with [African] destinations because they have been coming here in a way that Americans aren’t.

Q: What do you think is tourism’s role in development?
A: Pumping more and more into the economy and getting more hard currently into deserving peoples’ pockets. Gambia has done a great job of becoming a tourist destination.

Posted by Chi Lo

ATA Holds First Carbon Neutral Congress with Help from Gambia is Good

20 May

On our second host country day, we were fortunate enough to visit the Gambia Is Good (GIG) Project on our way to the President’s village of Kanilai. Though the air was hot and the roads were rocky, delegates could not help but get excited about GIG project’s partnership with ATA, bringing great environmental benefits to The Gambia from the 35th Annual Congress.

One of the most exciting elements of this year’s Congress is that it is the very first 100% Carbon Neutral Congress. GIG and the Gambia Host Committee brought this initiative to ATA, which is thrilled to participate in this initiative and lend its support.

It is estimated that the whole congress including travel to and from The Gambia will produce 390 metric tons of CO2. CO2, a greenhouse gas, contributes to global warming and is a major factor in the adverse impacts of climate change that affect the world and especially Africa. I was recently told that Africa produces the least amount of greenhouse gases in the world, yet will be hardest hit by the continuing adverse effects of global climate change.

After walking around the GIG project and tasting cakes made entirely using solar energy and drinking natural juices, we participated in a tree planting ceremony. ATA Executive Director Edward Bergman and Board Members Doris Wooten and Omar Carrera helped plant the first tree of the ATA forest to demonstrate ATA’s commitment to this project and to sustainable initiatives in general. All ATA delegates got the chance to plant seedlings for plants that will be officially planted during the rainy season.

Chi Lo and I were lucky enough to speak with Marcel Hendrikx, General Manager of the Kombo Beach Hotel and Marc Van Maldegem, the hotel’s Operations Manager, about the precise ways in which the ATA Forest will continue to benefit the GIG community and The Gambia as a whole.

“The creation of the ATA Forest in the surrounding areas of the Abuko Nature Reserve and within the Tundum Community will result in 2,500 new trees including Cashew, Mahogany and Melina and 2,500 grass plants.” Marc Van Maldegem explained that “Today the seeds are being put into the ground here at the GIG Farmyard, and later, during the rainy season they will be put in various places around the community where they have their permanent space”

The ATA Congress Forest will offset the carbon footprint of the 35th Annual ATA Congress for 20 years. In addition, The ATA Forest will produce cashews for the community to utilize and sell, produce wood for furniture makers, produce ingredients for local tea production from Kinkleba trees and produce materials for handicrafts from Vetiver grass.

Hendrikx, explained that GIG has employed many community members who come to GIG to learn organic agricultural techniques to grow crops for sale. He was proud to tell us, “Whenever we talk about farming, we are talking about women. It is all women and it starts from a very young age”.

He then explained that most of the hotels in The Gambia buy their produce from GIG and GIG purchases the produce from the community members.

I am proud to say that through ATA’s partnership with GIG, one of the key themes of ATA’s 35th Annual Congress, sustainability, was addressed in a real, tangible and innovative way. The ATA Forest that will begin to grow during the upcoming rainy season will be a lasting reminder of ATA’s commitment to sustainability as well as its dedication and appreciation for The Gambia.

For more information about the carbon offset program, visit: www.atagambia2010.com.

Posted by Robyn Deutsch

Delegate Spotlight: Diego Lofeudo

20 May

Name: Diego Lofeudo
Title: Director of Market Management, Eastern Mediterranean and Africa
Organization: Expedia
Location: Madrid, Spain

Q: Why did you come to the Congress?
A: To raise and voice concerns about Internet and e-commerce. Working with ATA is perfect for us, so we are planting the seed. We need to educate and raise awareness and grow the business beyond the “usual suspects,” like South Africa and Egypt. We are bringing in feeder markets to come to Africa because they have [Internet] platforms and do their shopping online, so we want to put Africa on the Internet map.

Q: What is your main goal for the Congress?
A: Networking, networking, networking.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face when trying to bring people to Africa?
A: Education, access to infrastructure, legislation for credit cards, bank transfers, fees… Planting the seed is key and the biggest challenge is trying to change the hotel industry’s mind. Trading in the online marketplace is something they’re not used to doing.

Q: What are some of the trends you are seeing?
A: People are eager for understanding, and the desire to learn is huge. Every time I travel back home from Africa, I am exhausted because people are so eager to learn, so I try to explain to them the benefits of having an Internet platform for transactions.

Q: What tools are necessary to capitalize on these trends?
A: Education about the Internet. We hold e-commerce seminars to teach people about transacting online. For example, we want to help hotels interact online with tour operators and tourist boards. Word of mouth is huge. We have pioneers who are willing to be the first to sell their products on the Internet, so when it is successful, they tell their friends.

Posted by Chi Lo