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Transcorp’s Aura Will Help Develop Domestic Tourism—Osinbajo

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Aura by Transcorp

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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Travel/Tourism

Wakanow Unveils Outlet in Lekki to Meet Customers’ Travel Needs

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Wakanow 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Travel/Tourism

France to Develop Tourism in Oyo

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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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Travel/Tourism

Radisson Plans Seven New Hotels in Morocco

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Radisson Blu Hotel Abuja

By Adedapo Adesanya

Radisson Hotel Group in partnership with Madaëf has announced the signing of seven Moroccan hotels, of which four will open their doors this month.

The new hotels located in renowned tourist areas, Al Hoceima, Saïdia and Taghazout, will consist of resorts and residences.

It will add over 1600 rooms, bringing the group’s Moroccan portfolio to 10 hotels, fast-tracking its strategy to reach 15 hotels in operation and under development in the country by 2025.

Speaking on the development, Mr Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer EMEA, Radisson Hotel Group said, “We are delighted to announce this portfolio of seven new hotels, as it not only accelerates our growing presence in Morocco but also reaffirms our commitment towards the country and its future.

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“Morocco is Africa’s number one tourism destination in terms of foreign arrivals as a bridge between Europe and Africa and is a priority market for our African development strategy because of its vast potential of Morocco.

“We remain committed to the country’s Royal Vision, Morocco’s new campaign to promote national as well as international tourism development. We would like to thank our business partners for their trust in our brands and teams as we look forward to opening these world-class properties across Morocco together,” he said.

On his part, Mr Ramsay Rankoussi, Vice President, Development, Africa & Turkey, Radisson Hotel Group said, “This diverse portfolio which consists of four converted and three new-build resorts and residences spread across Al Hoceima, Saïdia, and Taghazout, reinforces our serviced apartments as well as our global resort offerings.

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“Complementing our existing properties in Marrakech and Casablanca, these new properties also cement the presence of our flagship Radisson Blu brand, as well as the footprint of our fast-growing, upscale Radisson brand in Africa.

“The addition of these hotels, reinforced with the opening of four, has certainly catapulted and diversified our presence in this key market, which we look forward to continuing rapidly expanding within.”

Mr Mamoun Lahlimi Alami, CEO, Madaëf, the owning company, says: “We are proud to reinforce our position as the leaders in Morocco’s tourism investment through this partnership with Radisson Hotel Group to open seven hotels in three strategic destinations with high potential.

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“These include two new openings representing the introduction of nearly 600 rooms this year in Al Hoceima, and the creation of 1500 direct and indirect jobs. Four properties will be rebranded with the aim of elevating the product and customer experience, in addition to a seventh hotel under development.

“We are thrilled to establish this relationship with Radisson Hotel Group through a partnership enshrined in Madaëf’s new asset management policy, which aims to maximize the performance of its portfolio,” he said.

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