ADT found this article on airlines that might interest frequent flyers. Kim Peterson sheds some light on airlines in CBS News in an rticle on the 22 most dependable airlines in the world:

Airlines can make even the most patient passenger grumpy at times, with their nickel-and-diming ways and lackluster customer service. But when you need to get somewhere relatively quickly, flying is generally the best way to do it. And when you need a reliable carrier to get you there, certain airlines stand out as the ones to choose. Travel site WanderBat looked across the globe to find which airlines were the most dependable, ranking each carrier in three areas: On-time performance, low costs to check bags, average age of an airline fleet.

The site came up with a pretty interesting list. You won’t find some major U.S. airlines on here, but you will find some surprises — names you may not be familiar with.

  1. Qatar Airways

The 22 most dependable airlines in the world QatarFleet size: 130
Number of destinations: 144+
On-time percentage: 82.8%
Average age of fleet: 5.5 years
Qatar Airways has an on-time percentage that other airlines would kill for. And it has a relatively young fleet, which means its planes are more modern and comfortable. As if that’s not enough, the Doha-based airline now gives business and first-class passengers a Giorgio Armani kit with fragrances, earplugs, eye masks, socks and lotions. Qatar recently bought a 9.99 percent stake in International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways. The move will likely help the airline expand into Europe.

  1. Emirates

Emirates Airlines aircraft are seen near concourse A at the Emirates Terminal at Dubai International AirportFleet size: 232
Number of destinations: 142+
On-time percentage: 73.9%
Average age of fleet: 6.3 years
Emirates is “eating all the other airlines’ lunch,” writes International Business Times. The Dubai-based airline has been profitable every year for more than two decades, partly because its geographical location makes it a perfect transfer point between key markets. And Dubai has an advantage because it can add more runways and terminals nearly without limit, IBT noted. Finally, its shares are not traded on stock exchanges, so it doesn’t have to keep shareholders satisfied. Emirates offers free Wi-Fi on its planes — a perk Americans aren’t accustomed to. It will also fly to 10 U.S. destinations this year when it begins nonstop service between Dubai and Orlando in September.

  1. China Eastern

China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 planes are seen at an airport in TaiyuanFleet size: 363
Number of destinations: 300+
On-time percentage: 62.4
Average age of fleet: 6.3 years
Airlines are seeing business boom, thanks to lower fuel prices along with strong growth in air traffic, and China Eastern is no exception. The Shanghai carrier said its profit rose a stunning 45 percent in 2014, aided by an increase in demand in its domestic market. But like China Southern, the carrier is warning that fiercer competition could hurt business in the future.

  1. Singapore Airlines

Fleet size: 107
Number of destinations: 62+
On-time percentage: 82.7%
An Airbus A380 jet of Singapore Airlines lands at the airport in ZurichAverage age of fleet: 7.4 years
Singapore Airlines is considered one of the most decadent airline flight experiences in the industry, and it’s easy to see why. Check out this man’s accountof his flight from Singapore to New York. Derek Low booked a $23,000 suite last year. Before he even boarded the plane, he was eating lobster and a foie gras burger in the airline’s lounge. Once on board, he was served caviar, more foie gras and lobster — and a perfectly cooked steak.

  1. China Southern Airlines

Fleet size: 480
Number of destinations: 207+
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world china southernOn-time percentage: 68.6%
Average age of fleet: 6.4 years
The carrier focuses on commercial airline services throughout China and Southeast Asia, and also has maintenance and catering units. Its financial performance suffered last year as market competition grew fierce and yuan depreciation led to currency losses. Chinese investors are bullish on the stock, however, sending it to a 52-week high this week.

  1. Ethiopian Airlines

Fleet size: 76
Ethiopian Airlines' newly acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with a seating capacity of 400 passengers, arrives at the Bole International Airport in Capital Addis AbabaNumber of destinations: 101+
On-time percentage: 71%
Average age of fleet: 7 years
Africa’s largest and most profitable airline has been in rapid expansion mode to capture the hot Africa-Asia market. Ethiopia is building a massive airport to house the airline’s home base. The country is looking to shed its image of famine and poverty, and showcase its booming economy.

  1. Air China

Fleet size: 320
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world Air chinaNumber of destinations: 185+
On-time percentage: 69.6%
Average age of fleet: 6 years
The airline is flying high financially, recently reporting a solid earnings performance boosted by international traffic growth, a recovering economy and lower fuel prices. Air China is also benefiting from what it calls an “increase in the consumption standards” of Chinese citizens. In other words, they’re more willing to spend money on travel. Passenger boardings rose nearly 7 percent last year from a year earlier.

  1. British Airways

Fleet size: 265
Number of destinations: 183+
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world British AirwaysOn-time percentage: 70.8%
Average age of fleet: 12.5 years
The airline’s parent, International Airlines Group, has been in cost-cutting mode lately, buying lighter seats and removing an unused fourth seat in the cockpit of some planes. The company is even standardizing the doors and faucets in lavatories across all three of its airlines. All the cost-cutting is bringing out some critics. One British journalist deplored the airline’s first-class cabin in a short video that went viral earlier this year. Owen Thomas filmed his seating area on a flight from London to Saint Lucia, calling it “filthy” and “disgusting.”

  1. Saudia

Fleet size: 154
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world Saudi ArabianNumber of destinations: 126+
On-time percentage: 87.1%
Average age of fleet: 10.1 years
The Saudi Arabian airline has been busy planning the IPOs of several of its units, including its ground, cargo and maintenance operations. The various IPOs are likely to bring billions of dollars to the airline. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia privatized six units of its national airline in 2006. The first of those units to go public, Saudi Airlines Catering, raised $347 million in 2012.

  1. Cathay Pacific

Fleet size: 144
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world Cathay PacificNumber of destinations: 112+
On-time percentage: 69%
Average age of fleet: 8.6 years
The Hong Kong carrier, regularly lauded as one of the best airlines in the world, is known for serving food that’s far better than traditional in-the-clouds fare.Bloomberg’s restaurant critic decided to fly business class from London to Melbourne on Cathay Pacific mainly to see what the airline’s kitchen was up to. For lunch, he had smoked salmon with capers, Sichuan chicken with chili sauce, pasta with vegetables, a cheese plate and mango passion fruit cream cake.

  1. Lan

The 22 most dependable airlines in the world LanFleet size: 116
Number of destinations: 66+
On-time percentage: 81.5%
Average age of fleet: 5.1 years
The Chilean airline is in the middle of a worker upheaval, with some employees calling for strikes to press for improved working conditions. Lan says it has a contingency plan in place for the strike and will continue operating normally. Lan and Tam Airlines are owned by Latam Airlines Group, the largest airline company in Latin America.

  1. Tam Airlines

Fleet size: 162
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world Tam AirlinesNumber of destinations: 62+
On-time percentage: 80.1%
Average age of fleet: 7.2 years
The domestic aviation market has been slowing in Tam’s home country of Brazil, which is dealing with currency volatility and lackluster corporate activity. Tam has been cautious about expanding its business this year in Brazil, but it’s planning to be more aggressive in other parts of South America.

  1. Japan Airlines

Fleet size: 157
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world Japan AirlinesNumber of destinations: 92+
On-time percentage: 83.7%
Average age of fleet: 8.7 years
Japan Airlines was crushed by high payroll and pension costs, and by too many investments in overseas hotels, so the government had to bail it out in 2010. That move is considered a success because it helped the carrier get back to profitability. Japan Airlines had a massive initial public offering in 2012, raising $8.5 billion in the deal.

  1. EgyptAir

Fleet size: 62
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world Egypt AirlinesNumber of destinations: 78+
On-time percentage: 71%
Average age of fleet: 10.4 years
EgyptAir’s profits have slumped amid the country’s political turmoil, with visitor numbers and volume of domestic travelers in decline since 2011, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation.
Executives are developing a turnaround plan that includes cutting money-losing routes and reducing frequency on other routes.

  1. Etihad Airways

Fleet size: 105
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world EthihadNumber of destinations: 120+
On-time percentage: 57.9%
Average age of fleet: 5.4 years
The airline’s on-time arrival rate is truly deplorable, but some customers don’t seem to mind too much. That’s because the national air carrier of the United Arab Emirates has introduced some pricey new fare classes that take luxury to a new level. Some planes will soon feature a large three-room “residence” that comes with its own butler. They’ll also have first-class “apartments” and business-class “studios.” A Miami businessman paid $20,000 last December for a one-way fare to be the first passenger in Etihad’s residence suite.

  1. Malaysia Airlines

The 22 most dependable airlines in the world Malaysia airlinesFleet size: 98
Number of destinations: 60+
On-time percentage: 74.1%
Average age of fleet: 4.6 years
The airline is still reeling from two deadly disasters last year in which one plane went missing and another was shot down over eastern Ukraine. At the time, some industry analysts questioned whether the company could survive. The airline is still limping along, though its home country has agreed to take it private in order to overhaul its operations.

  1. Southwest Airlines

Fleet size: 665
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world southwest airlinesNumber of destinations: 93+
On-time percentage: 74.2%
Average age of fleet: 11.5 years
Southwest, the only U.S. airline to make WanderBat’s list, has been trying to improve its dismal on-time arrival performance over the last year, and it’s certainly making progress. But where the airline truly stands out is with its luggage policy. It allows two free checked pieces of baggage per customer — a benefit no other domestic carrier can match. For that perk alone, the company has its share of loyal fans.

  1. Qantas

Fleet size: 129
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world QantasNumber of destinations: 41+
On-time percentage: 80.1%
Average age of fleet: 9.4 years
The Australian airline wants customers to dress a little better on its flights, recently saying it will be more strict about enforcing its “smart casual” dress code in its business class lounge. That means no bare feet, flip-flops, shorts or clothing with offensive images or slogans. But if you didn’t pay the outrageously steep fares for business class, you’ll get more of a pass clothing-wise.

  1. Aeroflot

Fleet size: 149
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world aeroflotNumber of destinations: 129+
On-time percentage: 85.5%
Average age of fleet: 3.9 years
This airline has a young fleet and a sky-high percentage of on-time arrivals — both of which tend to make passengers happy. Aeroflot is known to some as the poster airline of Russia, with a semi-monopolistic position in its home market. In that respect, its fortunes rise and fall along with Russia’s, and so it has seen some turbulence as the country’s economy has tanked. The airline grounded its low-cost subsidary Dobrolet after Western sanctions suspended its operational contracts with European companies.

  1. China Airlines

Fleet size: 82
A China Airlines aircraft prepares to land at Tan Son Nhat airport in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh cityNumber of destinations: 95+
On-time percentage: 60.5%
Average age of fleet: 10.2 years
The airline will wow passengers with its new Boeing 777 planes, which offer lie-flat seats in business class and a “Sky Lounge” with alcoholic beverages and snacks. The plane also has seats that can turn into what it calls the “family couch” — three seats that can form one sofa-like arrangement for sleeping or relaxing.

  1. Philippine Airlines

Fleet size: 51
The 22 most dependable airlines in the world PhilippinesNumber of destinations: 40+
On-time percentage: 53%
Average age of fleet: 4.2 years
The airline has been reaping the benefits of a growing wave of tourism, both as more foreign visitors enter the country and as more Filipinos travel abroad. The carrier recently brought back service between Manila and New York City after an 18-year break and is planning to expand elsewhere in North America, according to Business Travel News.

  1. Air Berlin

Fleet size: 127
An aircraft operated by German carrier Air Berlin lands in Berlin's Tegel airportNumber of destinations: 171+
On-time percentage: 81.8%
Average age of fleet: 6.7 years
Germany’s second-largest airline has stumbled financially — and has burned through several CEOs in a short time period. The company is trying to restructure itself, trimming both its costs and its employee count. New boss Stefan Pichler has a plan to make the company operationally profitable by next year and says he’ll pull out of cities where the airline is losing money.

Original Source:


Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention. Our warmest congratulations to Holly, a dear friend of Repeating Islands.

 After a national and international search, the Board of The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Holly Bynoe as Chief Curator.

Holly Bynoe is a curator, writer and visual artist from St. Vincent and the Grenadines who, for several years, has lived and worked across the Caribbean, creating a strong network of ties throughout the region. Bynoe is the co-founder and director of ARC Magazine, a visual art and culture publication focusing on contemporary art throughout the Caribbean and its diaspora. She is a graduate of Bard College | International Center of Photography where she earned an MFA in Advanced Photographic Studies.

As editor and director of ARC, Bynoe has organized and curated various exhibitions and programmes across the Caribbean and the diaspora in collaboration with several formal and informal art spaces, including New Media, an annual collaborative exhibition held in conjunction with the trinidad+tobago film festival and Caribbean Linked, a residency programme held in Aruba in collaboration with Atleliers ‘89, The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., the Stichting DOEN Foundation and the Mondriaan Foundation. She is a co-director of a regional meeting of art professionals titled Tilting Axis, which had its inaugural conference in 2015 and will continue to be hosted in various locations throughout the region, the NAGB among them.

Bynoe has had close collaborative relations with The Bahamas for several years, having curated shows for the annual, cross-island Transforming Spaces art tour for the last three years and coordinated panel discussions at the NAGB, as well as having organized small shows for The PS room, or project space. In the summer of 2015, she will also take the work of a Bahamian artist to MoCADA NY in New York City as part of the upcoming exhibition Field Notes: Extracts.

“I feel honoured to be joining the talented team at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas,” says Bynoe. “The Bahamas is becoming a critical creative beacon in the region, and I look forward to the challenge of engaging with this extraordinary community and its cultural landscape.”

Her most recent collaboration with the NAGB was acting as co-curator for its latest show, the seventh national exhibition titled NE7, The Antillean: An Ecology, which asked artists to respond to ideas of Bahamian and Caribbean identity as seen through the lenses of race, economy, class and privilege. The catalogue for the NE7 is being released to coincide with her appointment, starting May 1.

NAGB Director Amanda Coulson stated, “It’s an exciting time for the NAGB as we expand our audience locally and take our artists internationally. Ms. Bynoe and I have a history of collaborative projects behind us, and I am enthusiastic and positive about the direction we can steer the institution together and to which level we can take it.”

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is one of the premiere art institutions in the Caribbean and aims to cultivate awareness of Bahamian fine arts both at home and abroad. For the past 11 years, the NAGB has committed itself to fostering local artists who continue to push the frontiers and foundations of culture across the islands. The institution assumes a critical role in the development of visual arts and devotes itself to exchange, the shoring up of national identity, scholarship and education. Housed in the historic Villa Doyle—built in the 1860s and lovingly restored in the 1990s—the NAGB preserves the National Collection of Bahamian Art, part of which is on permanent display on the ground floor. A project space engages with younger, experimental positions, rotating monthly while the upper galleries engage the history of Bahamian art and visual culture, supporting contemporary movements and experimental art practice through temporary exhibitions lasting three–four months each.

Source: Repeating Islands

For the original report go to

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BLACK MEETINGS & TOURISM MAGAZINE will be presenting a workshop entitled “Helping Your Clients Plan Their Family Reunion” at Travel Professional’s of Color’s (TPOC’s) 13th Annual Conference.

BLACK MEETINGS & TOURISM MAGAZINE will be presenting a workshop entitled “Helping Your Clients Plan Their Family Reunion” at Travel Professional’s of Color’s (TPOC’s) 13th Annual Conference.  This year’s TPOC Conference will be held May 14 – 17, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Airport Hotel in East Point, GA.  The Family Reunion Workshop is scheduled to take place on May 15, 2015 from 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.  The public is invited to attend this free workshop, where among other things, attendees will learn: how to plan a family reunion; the benefits of working with a travel agent; help/support services available from convention & visitors bureaus; and money saving tips for planning your reunion.




  • Chantel Ross Francois…………….……………………….……Tourism Director, Douglasville CVB
  • Penny Moore………………………….………………..……..Group Services Manager, DeKalb CVB
  • Todd Neal…………...………………..…...Sr. Sales Manager, Destination College Park, Atlanta CVB
  • J. Maceo Rogers…….……….…………CEcD Director, Dept. of Economic Development, East Point
  • Panelist TBD…………………………..Hilton Hotels Corp.




Several studies suggest that somewhere between 75 and 85 million Americans have participated in a family reunion within the last year, and 40 to 45 percent of all trips taken by African-Americans involve some sort of family visit.  It is estimated that upwards of 70 percent of all family reunions are held by African-Americans.


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                            ABOUT BLACK MEETINGS & TOURISM:


 Publishing since 1994, BLACK MEETINGS & TOURISM is the exclusive, African-American owned, awarding-winning, international, trade publication for and about the $56+ Billion plus African-American meetings, incentives, leisure and group travel market. (


For More Registration Information, Please Contact:


Carolyn White, President, TPOC Board of Directors


Phone:  866-901-1259


Top photo: Solomon Herbert Founder/ Publisher of Black Meetings and Toursm. 






bahamas 1The Islands Of The Bahamas are leading in all aspects of tourism growth in 2015, with gains expected, to lead the Caribbean, Americas and World averages, according to latest report released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). This reaffirms the recent announcement by The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, of statistics showing double digit increases in air arrivals and hotel performance for the month of January.

The WTTC Report predicting growth in 2015 shows The Bahamas leading in Travel and Tourism’s Contribution to GDP at 6.7%, more than double the Americas’ average; with 5% growth in Employment, almost double the Americas’ average; 7.8% growth in Visitor Exports, more than 7 times the Americas’ average; 6.2% and 7.1% growth in leisure and business spending respectively, both more than double the Americas’ average.

“All signs are pointing to 2015 being a landmark year for tourism in The Bahamas, exceeding 2012, which was previously seen as a step change year for Bahamas tourism,” said Minister of Tourism, Hon. Obie Wilchcombe. “This is wonderful news not only for our very important visitors from around the world, but also for the Bahamian people, with significant increased percentages in job growth and our country’s GDP. We look forward to warmly welcoming all of our visitors this year, and in the coming years, and to providing them with the authentic Bahamian hospitality that visitors have come to expect and love, as well as experiences they are sure to never forget.”

Visitors to the Bahamas this year will have much to look forward to, including the Junkanoo Carnival in April and May, the IAAF World Relays and the long anticipated Baha Mar resort opening in May, as well as many planned sporting events and festivals. This is in addition to the multitude of resorts, fabulous cuisine, picturesque white beaches and turquoise waters that await visitors to the Islands year-round.

Source: ETN

About The Islands Of The Bahamas:

The Islands of The Bahamas have a place in the sun for everyone from Nassau and Paradise Island to Grand Bahama to The Abaco Islands, The Exuma Islands, Harbour Island, Long Island and more. Each island has its own personality and attractions for a variety of vacation styles with some of the world’s best golf, scuba diving, fishing, sailing, and boating, as well as, shopping and dining. The destination offers an easily accessible tropical getaway and provides convenience for travelers with pre-clearance through U.S. customs and immigration, and the Bahamian dollar at par with the US dollar. Do everything or do nothing, just remember It’s Better in The Bahamas. For more information on travel packages, activities and accommodations, call 1-800-Bahamas or visit their website.

I, Charles H. Wright: My Story

March 10, 2015 - February 5, 2016

This year, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History reaches a milestone in the history of the institution - it’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate this august achievement, the museum presents an exhibition centered around the life of the man who started it: Charles Howard Wright, M.D. (1918-2002). A great physician, an intellectual of incredible insight, and a man of solemn dedication to his community, through words and images, documents and objects, the exhibition summarizes his expansive legacy.

Throughout his life, Dr. Wright was committed to what he defined as “one of the most important tasks of our times,” ensuring that future generations, especially young African Americans, be made aware of and take pride in the history of their forebears and their remarkable struggle for freedom. The Wright Museum, the largest museum in the world dedicated to the history and culture of African Americans, is the culminating result of his monumental efforts to complete that important task.

Dr. Wright committed his entire adult life to fighting for freedom, justice and equality for all. He challenged discriminatory practices in the health care industry, put himself in harm’s way by directly participating in the civil rights struggle, and developed a philanthropic program to provide financial support to African medical students.

Wright served his community as a gynecologist and obstetrician, institution builder, author, playwright, moviemaker, husband, parent, and much more. Many called him a Renaissance Man; it is clear he was an unwavering Resolute Warrior.

I, Charles H. Wright: My Story is free with museum admission. For more information visit, .






Cape Town has moved up from last years’ nineteenthplace to emerge at number ten on the list of Tripadvisor’s Top 25 Destinations in the World for 2015. The selection is part of the Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards, in which Tripadvisor used an algorithm to track the quality and quantity of user-review ratings of hotels, attractions and restaurants over a twelve month period.  

Says Cape Town Tourism Executive Marketing Manager, Velma Corcoran, “Tripadvisor is a very important part of Cape Town’s market presence, generating word-of-mouth based on honest reviews and varying levels of cultural expectations.  Accolades involving actual users are the ones to truly celebrate.”

Tripadvisor noted Cape Town’s natural beauty, including views from Blaauwberg Beach and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, as well as hikes through the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and  the symbolic experience of a visit to Robben Island – former prison home to Nelson Mandela.

Marrakech in Morocco took the number one spot, whilst Rome, Paris and London remained as favourites alongside more exotic destinations Hanoi in Vietnam and Siem Reap in Cambodia.


Cape Town was the only South African city to feature on the Top 25 Destinations in the World 2015.

flReunion Island Tourism (IRT) has launched 24 individual short videos to highlight the services and attractions of the island, each covering a specific aspect with a duration of just one minute. 

The tourism industry is an important sector for the economic development of Reunion Island. In an effort to better inform the people of Reunion on the tourism sector’s contributions and economic impact at large, the IRT has produced a series of 24 short awareness videos to showcase the depth of the tourism sector’s service range. 

“Tourism Moments:" an immersive discovery of tourism business

Each of the 24 different videos invites the viewer to discover variety. Various professionals explain the specific aspects of their business - the tourists who give their impressions on the destination’s attractions, the students who intend to work in the field of tourism, and high-level athletes who combine passion and promote the destination as an adventure dream. The clips all have the same objective, informing the public about the many professions and segments of the tourism sector. 

In the panel of tourism-related occupations, extensive work in the tourism sector can address seven values in everyday life:

• the principle of commitment: to make a passion a profession;

• the principle of movement: working in an evolving industry;

• the principle of work: the trades that move;

• the principle of interaction: working in contact with tourists;

• the principle of sharing: to offer the experience of the destination to travelers;

• the principle of pleasure: to contribute to visitor satisfaction; and

• the principle of territory: to invest and own the development of the island.

To learn more about the business of tourism on Reunion Island, find “The Tourism Minute" broadcast on the local channel 1st Meeting.

The first of the videos will be screened this Tuesday, March 31, and will run through Friday, May 1, before the evening news at 7 pm across Reunion Island. For interested readers outside Reunion who are keen to see the 24 videos, click here:

Source: ETN


Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival: Countdown to Grand Bahama Kickoff


The 2015 Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is slated for May 7-9 in New Providence, Bahamas and its kickoff, the Music Masters Semi-finals will take place on April 17-18 at Taino Beach. Here is more information on the upcoming events:

Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is the merger of the Carnival concept with Junkanoo, the brainchild of Prime Minister Perry Christie, is intended to rebrand the country as a viable entertainment destination and afford Junkanooers the opportunity to make and sell costumes, both in The Bahamas and around the world.

[Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell] said, “The prime minister wanted to find a way for our culture to become economically self-sustaining and so this is an effort toward that. You have your artisans, musicians everybody will be involved – the community at-large, and people will come from not only outside of the country, but from other islands inside the country to Grand Bahama for the signature events.”

[. . .] Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville also noted at the press conference that since the prime minister’s announcement last year, the community of Grand Bahama has embraced Junkanoo Carnival and he is pleased with the strides that have been taken in preparation for the Grand Bahama and Nassau events.

[. . .] As for the Music Masters two-day semifinals event, Minister Darville said while government is optimistic about the domestic tourism numbers from Nassau and the Family Islands, it is also interesting to note that many individuals from around the world are expressing great interest via internet responses.

[. . .] At the GBCCC office opening in the Regent Centre East on Tuesday, Bahamas National Festival Commission Consultant Ginger Moxey explained that the company is a coming together of all nine Junkanoo groups, cultural product providers and musicians in Grand Bahama for Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival.

Costumes being produced at the local office will also be on sale and can be worn at both events in Grand Bahama and at Road Fever in New Providence.

[. . .]Come April 17th and 18th, 17 Bahamian artists who make it to the semifinals in the song competition of the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival CD compilation will perform their original songs on one stage. Grand Bahama’s Terrell Tynes-Wilson and Georgina Ward-Rigby will be among the number, along with other Bahamian entertainers.

Midnight Rush will follow the initial concert on April 17th and is expected to warp into the beach party before day two of the Music Masters semi-finals kicks off April 18th.

[Vendor applications are available at the GBCCC office, along with information on the all-access weekend pass. For further information, call (242) 602-5117.]

For full article, see

Havana and Washington haven't fully hammered out how to restore relations yet, but the house-sharing application opens a new door between everyday Cubans and Americans, Howard LaFranchi reports for The Christian Science Monitorcub

Americans traveling to Cuba won’t yet find a Marriott or a Hilton for their stay on the communist island – but starting Thursday they can book a room in Cuban homes through Airbnb.

The announcement by the budget, in-home lodging site is the latest sign of the rush of interest by Americans in the long-off-limits Caribbean island. Prior to President Obama’s announcement in December of intentions to normalize relations with Havana, Cuba was mostly a no-go destination for American tourists.

Mr. Obama’s opening to Cuba has triggered something of a tourism gold rush among Americans intrigued by the prospect of a peek at Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

The entry of Airbnb into the Cuban market meets two of the objectives Obama listed when he outlined his new Cuba policy in December: It promotes contacts between Americans and the Cuban people, and it offers a new avenue to the small entrepreneurs blossoming across Cuba as President Raúl Castro cracks the door to private enterprise.

American and Cuban officials meeting since early this year have been unable to resolve differences standing in the way of reopening embassies in each other’s capitals – after a five-decade hiatus. But in the meantime the Obama administration has implemented a number of measures easing restrictions on travel and commerce between the two longtime adversaries.

Those measures have opened the Cuban door to enterprises like Airbnb.

The news may not sit well with opponents, particularly in Congress, of renewed relations with the Cuba of Raúl – and Fidel – Castro. But trade advocates were quick to welcome Airbnb’s announcement as a win-win for Cubans and Americans.

“Airbnb’s entry into Cuba is a prime example of the mutual benefit to Cubans and Americans that can come from relaxing US sanctions,” says Jake Colvin, vice president for global trade issues at the National Foreign Trade Council in Washington.

Recommended: Can the US-Cuba honeymoon last?

The arrival in Cuba of the online booking site for in-home lodging “will encourage people-to-people exchanges between Cubans and Americans, help meet soaring demand for rooms, and support and further encourage entrepreneurship and private enterprise in Cuba,” Mr. Colvin says.

The 55-year-old United States embargo on trade with Cuba remains in force, and can only be fully lifted by Congress – something almost no one in Washington envisions happening anytime soon. But Obama has taken the steps he can as president to ease commerce and travel restrictions.

While general tourism between the US and Cuba remains restricted, Americans who once had to break the law to visit the island just 90 miles from Key West, Fla., can now tour old Havana, sample Cuba’s vibrant music scene, or snorkel off a Cuban beach by booking a trip through an educational exchange program.

Airbnb’s entry into Cuba will make it easier for those Americans to book a stay in a Cuban home. But the Cuban practice of opening homes (and kitchens) to foreign tourists “has a long history,” as Colvin notes.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Cubans prohibited from establishing private businesses furtively opened their kitchens to tourists seeking a home-cooked Cuban meal. Gradually the government began allowing Cubans to open very small restaurants – the number of chairs on offer was strictly controlled – and then to rent rooms to foreigners.

In announcing its expansion to Cuba, Airbnb said its site would initially offer about 1,000 rental opportunities across the island, with 40 percent in Havana and most of the rest in other traditional tourist destinations.

Source: Repeating Islands

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Carnaval de Carnivals - just 75 days awayIn the short space of just five years, the “Carnaval de Carnavals,” the Seychelles’ version which brings together performing troupes from across the world of carnivals, has become one of the global top five. Huge media attention is given to the juggernaut of carnivalistas as they move through the streets of Victoria, representing the very best there is, from the Brazilian carnival, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Notting Hill, and the German “Karneval Vereine” from Cologne and Duesseldorf.

Additionally, carnivalistas come to Mahe from India, China, and other parts of Asia, and notably more and more groups from the African mainland, keen to showcase their versions of the silly season where colorful costumes blended with tribal dance performances are shown off in Seychelles.

The 2015 Carnival song has been selected from a very competitive set up where some of the archipelago’s leading musicians and singers performed, aiming to capture the cash prize, but more so the glory of having their creation become an earworm over the coming weeks.

The start of the 2015 carnival festival, and bookings have reportedly been coming in thick and fast from those who have just got to have one more go to show off their skills, after the European and South American carnival season closes at the stroke of midnight, when Ash Wednesday rings in.

Very notably, the carnival concept, initially somewhat alien to the Seychellois, has taken deep roots, and every year, more and more companies and individuals participate with floats. Not only have the numbers grown, but the quality has visibly improved from year to year, so the 5th edition will no doubt bring forth new highlights for the spectators as every float and troupe will vie to be declared by the judges as the best in its category.

Added last year was a childrens’ carnival on the closing day, and judging from the success of creating the next generation of local carnivalistas, it is safe to assume that the 2015 children’s carnival will equally bring out the best of the little ones as they show off their costumes put together by the moms and aunties. Come April 24 of this year, the eyes of the carnival world will once again be on the Seychelles for the three-day festival.

Ugandan-nominated-for-Nobel-Peace-PrizeVictor Ochen, the founder and director of the African Youth Initiative Network (Ayinet) has been nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. Mr Ochen, 33, becomes one of the youngest people ever to be nominated for the prize. He has been nominated alongside Edward Snowden, Pope Francis and Mussie Zerai, an Italian priest of Eritrean origin. Mr Ochen’s nomination was put forward by the American Friends Services Committee (AFSC), because of his dedication to rehabilitating victims of war by providing psycho-social support and lifesaving healthcare.

“Mr Ochen has shown commitment and effectiveness in his efforts to address the needs of victims. By working for transitional justice, he has been able to promote human rights through non-violent means, nourishing the leadership skills of other young people, and challenging systemic issues that lead to the continued vulnerability and suffering of war victims,” AFSC said. Born in one of northern Uganda’s camps for displaced people, Mr Ochen spent most of his youth amid war, witnessing first hand an array of human-rights abuses. In 2003, the Lord’s Resistance Army abducted his elder brother and cousin. To this day, their whereabouts are unknown.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that he feels proud that one of his alumni at the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship Programme is leading change in Africa. “Mr Ochen is part of a special group of African leaders who have graduated from the programme that bears my name and I wish him well as a potential recipient of this auspicious honour,” Archbishop Tutu said. Mr Ochen was part of the 2011 Programme and in May last year, he hosted Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the National War Victims’ Conference in Uganda. Mr Ochen said it was an honour to receive the nomination, adding that he hoped that the nomination will contribute to a change of perception of Africa’s youth as agents of prosperity and peace.

“My work in supporting victims and survivors of war, advocating for human rights, engaging in peace and reconciliation, is out of inspiration and I hope this recognition will shift the attention from the perpetrators to the victims and survivors of wars not only in Africa, but worldwide,” Mr Ochen said. Since 2005, Ayinet has provided reconstructive surgical repair to at least 5,000 victims of torture and sexual violence, as well as treating war wounds and those requiring mental health supports. Mr Ochen will wait till October to know if he will be lucky enough to bag the Nobel Peace Prize, which consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and the $1.2 million cash prize. Peter Wilson, co-founder and global CEO of AFLI said that Mr Ochen is a remarkable young man who epitomises selfless values-based leadership, a critical selection criterion in identifying high potential leaders to participate in the programme.

“We salute Victor and Ayinet for being recognised by the AFSC and being nominated by the Nobel Peace Committee. His recognitions come from his exceptional leadership in his efforts to transform the continent,” Mr Wilson said. Last year, Mr Ochens’ organisation Ayinet was recognised by Unesco as a model African Youth Initiative for promoting the culture of Peace in Africa. Mr Ochen will wait till October to know if he will be lucky to bag the Nobel Peace prize, which consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and the $1.2 million cash prize.

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                                                        Ikechi Uko: Tourism's Giant Enterpreneur 

Ikechi Uko is a pathfinder. With passion and an ADE_3579unquenchable hunger for knowledge, he has signposted the Nigerian travel and tourism landscape with two trademark products, Akwaaba Travel Market and Naija Seven Wonders.

Many people do not like to stand beside Ikechi Uko. At close to seven feet tall, he makes a lot of people feel short and small. For those who lack the audacity of dreaming big dreams, they have another reason to keep their distance.  Perhaps, owing to his height, Uko keeps his ambition in the region of a skyscraper. If the goal is not large and complicated, he does not take a shot at it. Maybe it’s connected to his study of Geography at the University of Ibadan that has bestowed on him the capacity to navigate through tough topography. And the journey of his life has been through a bit of rough patches, but he has soldiered on, always keeping his eyes on the goal.

Arguably, one of the leading travel and tourism enterpreneurs, Uko became involved in the travel trade by happenstance when he was hired to work on a publication of tourism destinations by the late icon of Nigerian journalism, Alhaji Babatunde Jose. This project opened his eye to the goldmine in the sector and he has not looked back or done any other thing since. His love for tourism and travel was further fueled when he worked on the team of Happyland-Happyworld, one of the most promising tourism projects in Nigeria that did not quite take off. It would be the last time he worked for anyone. Between the Jose project and Happyland-Happyworld, Uko convinced himself that he had garnered enough knowledge to launch a solo effort.

His first attempt as a businessman was in publishing. The product, Travellers’ Weekend gave him the platform he needed to explore. A couple of years later, it transformed into African Travel Quarterly to embrace a bigger vision that encompassed the African continent. Uko was becoming better known at what he did, not only in Nigeria, but throughout Africa and around the world. What helped him to rise fast on the ladder of  recognition in the travel and tourism world is his hunger for knowledge. His appetite to consume information is ravenous.

DSC_0198The Akwaaba Travel Market which Uko established  as a platform for buyers and sellers in the African travel trade recently clocked 10 years. Uko recalled the initial challenge. For him, it was exciting because it was a new journey. He had no fear. There was nothing to lose. Organising the travel exhibition is like going to school all over again. It has not been a bed of roses. He learnt many instructive things, particularly about the attitude of Nigerians. “Every Nigerian believes he knows something about something, when in actual fact they have never really interrogated that thing. I see it manifest in so many areas.

We are all football coaches. We are all aviation experts. We are all political experts. We are all judicial experts. If there is a judgment, everybody has an opinion. I was doing something that was not done before. I was also learning how to do it. That was the most interesting thing. Everybody around me was a travel expert, despite the fact that they have never been to a travel exhibition.  That has helped to see how I see other citizens. There is a problem with the coach and I am seeing everybody telling Stephen Keshi who should play. That experience has taught me enough on how to judge some other things in the Nigerian environment. I have learnt from something that there was nobody to learn from. There was nobody willing to teach me. In the process, everybody had an idea on how it should be done. None of these ideas was tested. If you ever want to do anything in Nigeria, you have to take time out to learn it very well. I had no one to understudy.”

IKHis travails as a pathfinder aside, Uko loves the life he lives. He loves the travels, meeting people and the surprise of arriving a destination. In 10 years of Akwaaba, the last edition has been the most challenging. There was a lot to lose on account of the Ebola scourge which made countries and businesses that had booked space at the exbition to cancel at the last minute. Happening at a time that he had separated the exhibition arm from the parent company, he needed to make the corporate name stick on the mind of participants. At this time, Uko who has been working closely with his wife, Rita, all these years desires to expand the business beyond his immediate family. But what he refused to do is to copy how the travel fair is done elsewhere. He insists on developing a uniquely African type travel market. “I will enter any relationship that will help in achieving the vision. We are open to that but we have had offers where people want to buy the platform for political reasons and for some other things. That means it is no more a travel exhibition. It is probably an event. We understand this is a critical part of the whole industry which is a travel marketing platform so if there is any collaboration that extends the vision, that is why we join some international organisations like the IITF because we thought these are the sort of collaborations that we need. Locally, we have had some government agencies trying to partner or get involved. We are not interested in just doing events. We are interested in doing things that work.”

The Akwaaba Awards which is a critical component of the exhibition has become one of the most-sought-after and treasured reward plaque in the industry. But Uko does not see why a lot of people break their heads over the award. “If you make the award an event, it takes away from the exhibition, then we defeat the aim. The awards ceremony sets the stage and raises the energy that drives the exhibition. That is what creates the energy. We believe in starting strong. When we do that we can actually concentrate on the exhibition because our strength should be in the exhibition. We are not really interested in people who come for the awards and the glamour. Our concentration is on the business of the exhibition. If we are so focused on that, that’s when we sustain the process. Some of the brands that have won the awards have fizzled out. So we are more concerned about the exhibition and the value we create. We are so committed to that. An award ceremony alone cannot sustain the vision. Most brands built around awards do not survive. “

At each edition of Akwaaba, Uko measures success by the volume of trade transacted. At the 10th edition, he pointed at a hotel group that has sold 10,000 hotel rooms as a first timer. We have another group that sold products to 10-15 HOTELS AND we have some negotiations that I was involved in; an international hotel brand that brought a branch for me to manage. There are many others like the group from Dubai. I have a partner at Sheraton Hotels who had done some negotiations worth hundreds of millions of Naira. Probably, this year was when the business was done and almost every exhibitor told me that this is their best year. There were a few exhibitors and they enjoyed more attention and they could pick from the people that came and most of the people that came were hungry for results. For some of them, there had been no business for three or four months. One hotel investor had approached me that he was looking for someone to help him manage his hotel.”

This boom in business was not just noticeable in the hospitality trade only. The airlines too had testimonies attesting to a successful outing. The next stage for Uko is to gain global acclaim and he knows that he can only achieve this by allowing a measure of transparency in his operations and also to get good feedback. “We were thinking about the return on the investment. If the investor invests thousands of dollars coming to the exhibition, we ask how much they make from the contacts generated at the exhibition. The return on investments for most of our exhibitors have been very high. I jokingly tell them that I will ask for my 10 per cent. Everyone was willing to share with us. We have changed from the model of asking for the return on investment after 12 months to calculating the numbers of done deals.”

DSC_0200Akwaaba is Uko’s biggest project yet. The logistics that goes into its planning is mind-boggling and it is a surprise that he works with a close-knit team of family members and staff. To understand the giant leap that project has taken in one decade. “The budget for the first year was less than a million. But taxes and logistics were huge. One speaker’s flight ticket alone cost $10,000, that is business class, from Germany to Nigeria. It cost more to bring international speakers than to organise the event. That was why we didn’t bother to ask for sponsorship because we didn’t want to build the business around sponsorship. We wanted to build it on income and it was a difficult model but that is what will last. We are counting our own breakable points not by the profits we made at the end of the year but by the volume of business that we have done. At the first edition we had two countries, Sao Tome and Ghana. As at last year, we had about 15 countries that showed interest.

One thing that makes Uko particularly happy is the capacity of Akwaaba to attract very distinguished personalities from around the world. “We are the first to honour the guy who organised the World Cup in South Africa. After that, we started getting honours for the other people. When we did the Legends of Travel. We honoured Sir Dauda Jawara, the former president of Gambia and Captain Mohammed of Ethiopian Airline. We have honoured  the biggest Egyptologist in the world. We have two sets of awards. it is a duty for Akwaaba to add value.”

For a man who has set up a credible reward platform for high achievers, it is an irony that Uko has not been recognised in official quarters in his home country. He is, however, satisfied with recognition from folks on the street. “I won’t complain because everywhere I have been in Nigeria, people quickly recognise me and say ‘oh! you are the tourism guy promoting Nigeria’. Nigerians recognise the sacrifice that I have made and I am not in government and I don’t have government backing in this project and I have done it so well. I have also had some hostility from some Nigerians who thought I shouldn’t be the one doing what I am doing. People appreciate the contributions we have made. But to think that other countries have honoured me more. Other people may think I deserve more from home.”

A few years ago, Uko ventured into a major branding and public relations project for Nigeria called Naija Seven Wonders. The project started in 2010 and took two years to complete. Search parties travelled all over the country and members of the public were galvanised to participate in the project. Nothing like that had ever been done in Nigeria! In 2013, Uko returned again with Seven Natural Wonders of Nigeria. The idea is to update it every two years. He spent close to N50 million on the Seven Wonders project. “We didn’t get sponsorship. It was only Cross River state that supported us. For some others, we were even asked to pay them. I don’t own the site, I don’t benefit from the site but I just want to add value to it before the international community because I understand how tourism works. I have been on every major road in Nigeria and in every airline. We have been arrested by JTF and we have been captured by Fulani people in Plateau. We were in the middle of the Tiv riot in Nassarawa.  People sometimes ask who pays us and why we are doing this. This is what I have passion for.”

ikkWhere ever there is a travel exhibition, Uko is there. It is his classroom for knowledge. He has been at every World Travel Market since 1998. “I became a travel expert by learning to do what others do- go to travel exhibitions. I have been attending WTM since 1998 and practically every major exhibition. I attend all the workshops. We lack skills in travel and tourism. It is to give people an opportunity to learn from those who have done it well and learn. I read relevant materials. We have created a platform for people to take advantage of but people still come to ask me for help that is available to  them at Akwaaba. They ask for connections that they could have made at the exhibition. Akwaaba has succeeded in the goodwill. There is a group of people who have the knowledge and desire to see something like this. And Akwaaba has succeeded because of these people.”

Original source:

Bottom Photo: Ikechi Uko with African Diaspora Tourism Editor Kitty Pope



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