The return of Bantaba by the organiser after it was rested for few editions because of the situation of Abuja has been discribed as a good omen to the travel and tourism industry because of it robust and well packaged contents which equipped stakeholders with the latest trends to grow their business.
However, the recently concluded 2017 Bantaba that played host to core tourism players in Port Harcourt, Rivers State between March 15 and 16, at De Edge Hotel, was a blessing to not only the tourism sector in the garden city and its environs, but also to the private and public sector participants who thronged the venue from eight states as well as visitors from Seychelles, Middle East, East, and South Africa.
The event which was a litmus test to repackage the networking-B2B-travel show turned out to be an interesting educative session with a hand full of trend-blazing practical model on how to effectively make stakeholders businesses gain more relevance and product positioning in the minds of the target audiences.
An expert in social media marketing and Founder of eTourism Frontier, Mr Damiam Cook from East Africa, took the audience on a comprehensive e-tourism session on the importance of social media tools in promoting and marketing business content(s) through the right online channels.
Cook’s offering, which was described by participants as one of the best contents of the Port Harcourt Bantaba, focused on e-marketing strategy, web-design, content and management, analytics and conversation optimisation, search engine marketing among others.
Speaking at the event, core stakeholders who were elated at the coming back of Bantaba into Nigeria tourism calendar commended the organiser of the event, Mr Ikechi Uko, who also co-organiser Akwaaba African Travel Market and other travel shows for his practical determination to create a relevant platform for tourism in Nigeria.
According to a foremost tourism promoter in Nigeria, Chief Amachree who clamoured for workable policies to build the tourism industry in Nigeria called on the Federal Government to give tourism its right recognition as the only replaceable alternative to oil at this time of recession.
Amachree, however thanked Mr Uko for the distinguish gesture and contribution to promote tourism in Nigeria as well as other tourism stakeholders and associations for their support.
Also the President of National Association Tour Operators, Ekereuwen Onung, South African Tourism Regional Manager for West Africa, Mr Lehlohonolo Pitso, Stella Obinwa of Dubai Tourism, Minister of tourism of Acompong, Jamiaca, MrTimothy Mcpherson among others, strongly called for a new direction towards promoting Africa within Africa to boost intra-tourism patronage.
According the stakeholders, “Africa has the population and market to grow domestic tourism within the continent. We have the destination, products and resources to make it happen.
Howeever, the organiser who was initially cold about how the event will turn out to be because of the perceived stereotype of the town, was embarrassed by the reception of participants as the hall allotted for the event was filled to the brim with guests requesting for more bigger space in subsequent event.
Some of the participant at Bantaba who confide in Travelpulse&MICE said that the content of event was rich, comprehensive and business friendly, calling for its repeat next year.
Reacting to the situation, the Organiser of Port Harcourt Bantaba, Mr Ikechi Uko said “we underestimated the garden city because of the image perception and information people gave about the city, which turned out to be wrong.
“Bantaba has given us a different picture of Port Harcourt entirely as a dynamic business environment, with unique and interesting lifestyle and activities to attract investors.
“Port Harcourt has a new face which no one is looking at and even making effort to explore and market. We need a new direction, a new way of doing things. No one can tell our stories better than we do and it is high time we started to doing things in a new way to meet the global trends.
“Today, I have a new perception from what I was told and used to hear about the garden city. The town is lively and receptive to tourism growth, but what is missing is synergy between the public and private sector to create a meeting point on how to package, and promote the rich tourism contents of the state for the benefit of the people.