I am a fan of events that help to promote the travel space especially among Africans. So when I heard about the 1st edition of CountlessMiles Travel Talk holding at Eko Atlantic City in Lagos, I knew I had to attend.
ABOUT COUNTLESS MILES (CM) TRAVEL TALK
CM Travel Talks is a Travel series hosted by CountlessMiles that brings together a growing community of travel industry professionals, passionate travelers and travel enthusiasts to foster meaningful and actionable conversations on the value of travel to Africans. Thought-provoking conversations, insights from mini panel sessions and invaluable networking are what you will find in this gathering.
Travel has a huge impact in the lives of Africans, our economy and the way we are perceived globally. Therefore such gatherings are necessary to foster a consciousness about the value of traveling and exploring places as an African.
ICE-BREAKER AND INTERACTIVE BREAKOUT SESSIONS
The CM Travel Talk held at two destinations: Toronto, Canada and Lagos, Nigeria. I attended the Lagos edition which was very insightful and educative.
Though I missed the ice-breaker, I was fortunate to join the interactive session. I had the opportunity to answer the question on my travel games card which read “How does travel contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)?”
As a Sustainable Tourism Campaigner, I was elated when I got this question. To answer, I gave one of my favorite examples of a woman selling boli (roasted plantain) and groundnut at a tourist site. When tourist arrive at that tourist destination, they are bound to feel hungry and eventually buy from her. This is how traveling is helping to supports her source of income.
This example supports one of the SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) that is Target 8.9 which encourages promoting of beneficial and Sustainable Tourism. Travel and Tourism helps to create jobs and promote local products such as buying of local meals, hand made souvenirs and preservation of local culture.
PANEL CONVERSATION: THE ROLE OF THE CONSCIOUS AFRICAN TRAVELER
The panel consisted of travel industry professionals such as Yejide Runsewe of Naija Nomads, Rosemary Okoli of Trip Zapp and Obinna Ekezie of Wakanow. It also included travel enthusiasts such as Tosin Durotoye of the Bloom Africa and Funke Futi of Sassy Funke. The panel was moderated by Ndubuisi Onodugo, the Co-Founder of CountlessMiles.
I truly enjoyed how honest, realistic and knowledgeable the panelists were about the issues facing Africans especially Nigerians while exploring the world as travelers.
THE GREEN PASSPORT MOVEMENT
Yejide spoke about the importance of encouraging Nigerians and Africans to travel to countries that require no visas, visa on arrival or e-visa. She explained how her company, Naija Nomads founded the ‘Green Passport Movement‘ by curating travel experiences to countries that give less or no visa hassle. She encourages Nigerian and Africans to not be discouraged when their visas are denied by ‘big nations’ and that they should try the ‘not so popular’ nations. You will be surprised at how much you will enjoy exploring those countries. She shared experiences from their recent group trip to Lebanon, a not so popular destinations for Nigerians, and how they had an amazing time there.
PATRONIZE LOCAL BUSINESSES
Rosemary spoke passionately about supporting local businesses in tourist destinations. She explained how most of the big business such as exotic hotels and resorts usually carry their profit away to their various countries and leave the host community or nation with little or nothing. She advised travelers to be consciously aware when visiting tourist destinations by ensuring they patronize local businesses.
PROMOTING AFRICAN TOURIST DESTINATIONS
Obinna talked about how his company, Wakanow.com, an online and retail travel company, aims at ensuring the travel value chain is embedded in their packages. They are champions of encouraging travelers to visit African tourist destinations, which led to the creation of Destinations Africa. It is an indigenous travel management company that curates travel packages to only African destinations. He also spoke about how they provide travel essentials such as their Travel Cards and Travel Sim to make it easy for Africans to travel.
BE AWARE OF YOUR PASSPORT “PRIVILEGES”
Funke shared some of her not so pleasant experiences traveling with her Nigerian passport. Once she was almost deported, even though she had full right to be in that country. Even though we, Nigerians, know our rights as travelers, the Green Passport is not respected in a lot of countries. This is due to some Nigerians who are exhibiting negative behaviors in other nations. She advised African travelers to always ensure their travel documents are up to date and to be very conscious when visiting other countries with their ‘privileged’ passports.
EXPLORE AFRICA AS AFRICANS
Tosin shared how travel is deeply personal and how one of the main benefits of being a conscious traveler involves making travel decisions that can help change ones mindset. Every year, she consciously visits at least one or more African country to relax, rejuvenate and explore. The reason why exploring Africa is expensive for Africans is because a handful of us hardly explore the continent. Exploring Africa as Africans would help open boarders within the continent. This will eventually help reduce expensive flights, reduce visa restrictions and encourage more trade among African nations.
To wrap up the panel session, the panelists concluded that Africans need to become true ambassadors of our culture and heritage. This will eventually change the negative perceptions others have about African travelers and Africans in general.
PRESENTATION BY SOCIAL IMPACT PARTNER: FOUNDER, GITGIRL
As a way to give back, a portion of the proceeds from the CM Travel Talk Lagos went towards funding a non-profit organization called GitGirl. CoutlessMiles donated to their scholarship funds to support one girl to join their academy.
The Founder, Yvonne Onyinye spoke passionately about her organization and how they are empowering women in Nigeria with data science and coding skills.
To end the event, there were exciting giveaways: a staycation at The Wheat Baker Lagos and Casa Nomads courtesy Naija Nomads. Sadly I was not one of the lucky winners. Also the first person to arrive the venue got a one day spa treatment.
African travelers need to be more conscious about how we are represented to the world. Indeed the world has become a global village, therefore we as Africans need to share and tell the right stories about who we are. Looking forward to more conversations like this. And I am definitely looking forward to the next CM Travel Talk series.
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Enjoy more pictures of the event…