By Adedapo Adesanya
Leading hospitality franchise, Radisson Hotel Group, has announced the continuous African expansion of its outfit to Djibouti with the signing of Radisson Hotel Djibouti in partnership with Salaam Properties.
The hotel marks the group’s entry into the country and brings its East African portfolio to 18 hotels and over 2,700 rooms in operation and under development, strengthening its strategic position in the region.
This new signing further underscores the group’s presence as the hotel company is active in most countries on the African continent with close to 100 hotels in operation and under development.
The expected 144-room hotel, scheduled to open in 2024, will comprise not only modern standard rooms and suites, but will also have accessible rooms, designed for wheelchair access. Dining options will include light snacks at the lobby café, international and local cuisine at the all-day-dining restaurant, and refreshing drinks at the poolside juice bar.
Also boasting an expansive meetings and events area, the hotel will offer a variety of versatile venues, including a ballroom, five meeting rooms, a pre-function area, as well as break out areas. The leisure facilities will include a spa, gym, and an outdoor swimming pool.
The hotel noted that it is picking Djibouti because its strength lies in its strategic location at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, forming a bridge between Africa and the Middle East.
Just 15 minutes away from Djibouti International Airport, Radisson Hotel Djibouti will be located in the heart of the city, surrounded by key infrastructures such as the Djibouti Port, Djibouti Free Zone, international headquarters, shopping malls and the seaside, providing the ideal base for business and leisure.
Speaking on this, Mr Erwan Garnier, Senior Director, Development, Africa, Radisson Hotel Group said: “We are delighted to mark our entry into Djibouti with Radisson, currently our fastest-growing upscale brand in Africa.
“With its existing limited branded hotel supply, we are confident that Radisson Hotel Djibouti will be the country’s leading internationally branded hotel.
“Along with our partners, Salaam Properties, we are proud to be contributing to the Djibouti Vision 2035 strategy for economic diversification which relies strongly on the growth of the tourism industry.”
On her part, Ms Fatima Zahra, Manager, Salaam Properties, the hotel’s owning company, said: “We are thrilled to be contributing to the growth of the region’s upscale tourism industry, together with our partners, Radisson Hotel Group. We are confident that Radisson Hotel Djibouti will help boost the capital’s economy through hundreds of jobs created both directly and indirectly, a significant achievement, especially during these challenging times the world is witnessing.
“The hotel is another great milestone in Salaam Properties’ successful investments within Djibouti’s burgeoning tourism sector. The country truly is a leading regional tourism and economic hub with significant potential to be further explored.”
Djibouti is a key market in East Africa due to its port complex, considered one of the most sophisticated in the world at the intersection of major international shipping lanes connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Radisson Hotel Group added that its top priority is the continued health, safety and security of its guests, team members, and business partners.
The group applies its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol created in collaboration with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, and recently unveiled its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across its Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) portfolio.
Wakanow Unveils Outlet in Lekki to Meet Customers’ Travel Needs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
In order to meet the rising travel needs of its customers, Africa’s largest online travel agency, Wakanow, has launched an experience centre in the Lekki area of Lagos State.
The outlet is located in Jubilee Mall on Admiralty Way and it will deliver an unparalleled immersive travel experience in a warm and relaxing atmosphere to customers.
“Wakanow is an online travel agency also with extensive offline presence with over 30 travel centres across Nigeria, Ghana and Dubai.
“We meet our customers’ travel needs across multiple touchpoints, wherever they are. We continue to expand our product portfolio& service offering as we aim to be their indispensable and trusted travel companion exciting them with travel deals, packages, and services that are unobtainable elsewhere,” the Chief Commercial Officer of Wakanow, Mrs Adenike Macaulay.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a devastating blow on the travel industry as people were not allowed to move around as they used to. The sector was practically paused.
However, Wakanow was able to scale through the storm due to the hybrid model of being an offline and online agency and this was further solidified by the massive investment it has made in technology over the years, enabling business sustainability through the pandemic.
During this same period, Wakanow was the only travel agency running 24/7 customer service centre operations which enabled it to take care of teeming customers during the upheaval in flight operations.
“Wakanow was able to weather the pandemic storm due to its innovative approach in the development of new complementary products and the unwavering commitment of the staff to the customer which has paid off hugely in customer retention and service uptake in the wake of travel restrictions,” the CEO of the firm, Mr Bayo Adedeji, said.
But 2021 has seen the resurgence of interest and demand in travel, with airlines steadily increasing capacity offered to Nigeria and even the launch of new domestic and international airlines.
Wakanow said it’s positioned to continue supporting its customers across all channels with their travel needs as travel demand resurges.
Transcorp’s Aura Will Help Develop Domestic Tourism—Osinbajo
By Dipo Olowookere
The decision of the management of Transcorp Hotels Plc to design a digital platform called Aura has been applauded by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
At the launch of the app on Thursday in Abuja, Mr Osinbajo said the initiative will help revive Nigeria’s hospitality industry in general, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 global pandemic as it will provide a major avenue for other small businesses in the value chain to grow.
“This is an excellent innovation, a service that leverages smoothly on technology and one that will be a tremendous boost to the hospitality industry as a whole.
“And because I have checked it out myself, I can say that my Aura experience has been quite good,” the Vice President said as he eulogised the team led by the Chairman of Transcorp Hotels, Mr Tony Elumelu; the Group CEO of Transcorp, Mrs Owen Omogiafo; and the CEO of Transcorp Hotels, Mrs Dupe Olusola; for designing such digital platform at this time.
Mr Osinbajo noted that the Aura app was designed to connect people to quality accommodation, great food, and awesome experiences in several places.
“Yes, there are a number of digital hospitality platforms already, but I think the unique offering here is that Transcorp, possibly Nigeria’s foremost luxury hotel, is putting its huge reputation behind the service of helping customers choose the best accommodation restaurants, and experience tours available in Nigeria. The advantages of this service are varied.
“First, the customer can rely on the experience and judgment of world-class personnel at Transcorp in choosing hotels and restaurants.
“Second, Transcorp helps to build other smaller hospitality businesses, and even those simply offering their apartments simply as short-let apartments, by recommending their accommodation to potential guests.
“A Transcorp recommendation is more or less an accreditation that the accommodation or other hospitality service meets the high standards for which Transcorp is known. This is great all around and will help revive the hospitality industry, especially since the downturn in the aftermath of COVID-19,” he said.
The Vice President added that he found the app easy to navigate, with a copious offering of hotels, short-let apartments, experience tours.
“They lure you into it by showing you a photo of an incredibly mouth-watering meal, and I saw a few that almost convinced me to break my fast early.
“So, there was an amazing looking Chicken Cheese Pizza from Barnyard lounge in Asaba, some irresistible chicken meal – a 5-star chicken – from Platino in Lagos, and some ‘carry go suya’ spice prawns at 355 here in Abuja. So, from the photo of the meal that takes you to the restaurant itself, you have booking options, dine-in, pick up or delivery,” he added.
Mr Osinbajo noted that, “I think the feature many especially property owners will find most fascinating is the host feature; as this enables you to put up your own property. And there are terms and conditions you need to meet for your property to be accepted. Same for whatever other entertainment facility you may wish to put out there for letting.”
In her remarks, Mrs Olusola agreed with the position of the Vice President on the capability of the initiative to support the development of the domestic tourism industry.
“Aura is a digital hospitality platform that gives the opportunity to all our stakeholders and guests to actually be able to book accommodation and experiences just at their fingertips.
“Aura is an opportunity for us to diversify our economy, an opportunity to create jobs and employment, and to develop domestic tourism and leisure travel,” she said.
The launch of Aura was also witnessed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige; the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Ade Ipaye; among other dignitaries.
The event featured delectable Nigerian cuisine, video presentations and live performances by leading Nigerian artistes and celebrities, including Tiwa Savage.
Business Post reports that since its launch on Thursday, the Aura by Transcorp app has recorded over 1,000 downloads on the Google Playstore.
France to Develop Tourism in Oyo
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The French government is looking to develop tourism in Oyo State and it has already taken a step towards achieving this goal.
Last weekend, the French Embassy was in the South-Western state of Nigeria to have talks with the government on how to go about this.
During a visit to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in Oyo State, the leader of the French delegation, Dr Vincent Hiribarren, said the country was determined to engage with Oyo State and seek ways to explore its tourism potentials in different archaeological and historical sites.
“Currently, France is seeking to help the Oyo State government to document its tourism potentials. This is the first working visit to the state’s tourism sites,” he said.
“The field visit to potential archaeological sites in Oyo State would afford us the opportunity to assess them, with the aim of developing an archaeological project,” he added.
The state government took the visiting team to a tourist site, Ado-Awaye Hill. They also toured studios and archives of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism with the aim of developing a project on digitalisation of archival materials and training of personnel.
Mr Hiribarren, who was excited, also promised the French government’s support to Oyo State in ensuring the full digitisation of its archaeological documents, archival materials and cultural heritage.
The team, thereafter, met the management of the Ministry to deliberate on possible projects to be developed based on the assessments made.
The French delegation added that the relics put up for consideration include Idere Relics, Kunrunmi Relics, Iyake Suspended Lake Ado Awaye & Aso Ofi centre, Iseyin (home of weavers).
“This official visit to the state is marked with a trip to the famous Ado-Awaye hill where we discovered big tourism potentials such as the Iya’ke suspended lake, the Iya’laro lake and an ancient cave,” the leader said.
Mr Hiribarren, who heads the French Institute for Research in Africa, promised the French Government’s support to ensure Ado-Awaye among other tourist sites in the State are enlisted on the UNESCO recommendation for tourism, which he noted will consummate the state’s economic diplomacy upgrade.
“We will ensure this is established as part of UNESCO tourism sites, such that it will influence tourists and improve the rating and cultural heritage of the community,” he said, adding that the visit was an attempt to build on the priorities set by the French Government, saying it was also a sign of Paris’ “willingness to change the narrative of the relations between the State and France.”
“We are working for a new, more sustainable, fairer way to support the tourism potentials in Oyo State. We want to find ways to partner with Oyo State on tourism to create more jobs, and to create more economic growth,” he added.
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr ‘Bunmi Babalola appreciated the French Government for the visit, which he noted will increase the volume of economic impact on the people of Ado-Awaye.
He also promised the state government’s full support to prioritize the tourism sector, which will, in turn, expand the State’s economy.
The Alado of Ado-Awaye, Oba Sunday Oladapo Oyediran, said the community has waited long for the realisation of this age-long dream.
Noting that the community hosts the only natural suspended lake in the African continent, the Monarch added that the development will not only enhance tourism potentials in the state but curb criminality and other vices.
The French Embassy Mission included Professor Gerard Chouin (Williams & Mary USA), Dr Vincent Hiribarren (Director IFRA Nigeria), Ms Lea ROTH (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Prof. R. A. Alabi (Head of Department of Archaeology UI), Joseph Ayodokun (Department of Archaeology UI and Field officer of IFRA Nigeria’s Archaeological Projects) and Patrick Babalola (Archivist, IFRA Nigeria).
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