BY Sade Williams/Business a.m.
The organisers of the biggest travel and tourism expo in West Africa, AKWAABA African Travel Market, have disclosed that medical tourism and leisure will receive major attention at the 18th edition of the event this year.
The annual event is billed to hold on 31 October and 1 November, 2022 at the Convention Centre of Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos, Nigeria.
The African Travel Market has grown over the years to become the most important platform for marketing travel and tourism in West Africa and is among the top five tourism events in Africa, drawing attendance from over 20 countries within and outside Africa. The organisers have decided to give a lot of attention to medical tourism and health insurance at the 2022 edition of the event, the organisers said, explaining that this is because of the increasing importance of medical tourism in Africa.
The world is thinking about wellness and health as an integral part of tourism. Recently, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) had a joint programme with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to streamline their strategies, they stated.
They quoted Zurab Pololikashvili, the UNWTO secretary-general, as saying, “COVID-19 showed that any crisis that threatens the health, safety and security of people, communities and the environment is also a risk to tourism itself. I am confident that strong cooperation at all levels will place health high on the tourism agenda. It will make for healthy tourists, healthy communities, a healthy environment, and healthy economies for current and future generations.”
AKWAABA organisers said the “Montenegro Statement” recognizes that health and tourism are deeply interconnected in the globalised world, noting that Lai Mohammed, the Nigerian minister of information and culture, who supervises tourism, disclosed that Nigerians spent over $1 billion on medical tourism in 2021. “This underscores the importance of this type of tourism and the need to examine the role of health travels in the growth of tourism and travel. Hospitals and medical tourism organisations from different countries will be invited to this year’s Akwaaba African Travel Market,” the organisers said in a statement.
This 18th Akwaaba will host the 5th edition of the African Travel and Tourism Conference and the 2nd edition of Africa Travel 100 Women Awards. In 2017 AKWAABA African Travel Market hosted the Top 100 Travel and Tourism Women in Africa and this brought together for the first-time women travel professionals from all over Africa with over 250 people in attendance.
In 2018 it hosted the Top 100 Tour Operators in Africa and hosted the African Diaspora Global Awards in 2019. The 2022 edition will bring back the Top 100 of the leading Female Airline Pilots, the ministers, the hotel managers and leading operators in Africa.
Leisure and corporate travel had been the leading source of travel business out of and into Nigeria and West Africa. The growth of medical tourism in the last few years demanded more focus on that sector of tourism, they said, adding that there will be a B2B session on medical tourism and health insurance November 1, 2022, along with a panel discussion with experts from both receiving countries and departing destinations.
The Africa Travel 100 Awards now in its 18th year has recognized over the years industry practitioners, leaders, and governments who have promoted tourism and demystified travel using unique platforms and new information.
Akwaaba delegates have access and face to face discussions with many destinations and suppliers which include over 300 travel professionals from Nigeria, West Africa and around Africa.