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Leading travel writer and publisher of ATC News, Prof. Wolfgang Thome, has emerged as one the winners of the African Travel 100 Global Personalities Awards scheduled to take place on September 23rd at the 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market.

Prof. Thome, a German national arrived in Kenya in the mid 1970s and has lived on the African continent since, spending over four decades. In Kenya, he was active in tour operations, hotel operations and air operations, and after 17 years he moved to Uganda in 1992. Settling in, the Pearl of Africa, he went into academics and consultancy.

He became active in trade politics helping to rebuild the association framework in the tourism industry which had all collapsed after the liberation war. He helped to reactivate the hotel association, form the tour operators association, travel agents association and the umbrella body Uganda Tourism Association, which he served as president for almost eight years.

I always felt as a welcome guest in Kenya, in Uganda I’ve become part of the furniture. …when I came to Uganda I literally became Ugandan – not maybe by passport, but certainly by the feeling in my heart that I belong here.

– Prof. Wolfgang Thome

Prof. Thome is happily married. His wife is Ugandan and they met in Kenya while she was in exile. The genial and witty professor has lived in Uganda for over 25 years and was granted life residency some time ago. We, at More Cream Than Coffee® congratulate Prof. Wolfgang Thome.

An initial shortlist of winners of the African Travel 100 Global Personalities Awards has been released by the organisers, African Travel Quarterly ATQNews.com.

The African Travel 100 Global Personalities Awards is expected to honour personalities that have distinguished themselves in the travel and tourism industry and contributed to the growth of the sector in Africa and the Diaspora. The event is part of the First African Tourism Diaspora Conference 2019 to commemorate 400th anniversary of the slave trade.

The Conference which is expected to draw top tourism personalities from around the world to Lagos, Nigeria is an avenue for Africans and the Diaspora from America, the Caribbean and the rest of the world to come together and celebrate 400 years of African resilience. The Conference will take place on the 23rd of September 2019 at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos during the 15th edition of the AKWAABA African Travel Market.

AKWAABA African Travel Market is the first and biggest travel and tourism expo in West Africa. The 3-day b2b travel trade show will take place from the 22nd to 24th of September 2019.

The Africa Travel 100 Global Personalities Awards initial shortlist of winners includes:

TRANSPORTATION:

  • Rohan Vos:                         Owner of Rovos Rail (South Africa)
  • Frank Nneji:                       Owner of ABC Transport (Nigeria)

AVIATION:

  • Tewolde Gebremariam:    GCEO, Ethiopian Airlines
  • Rahel Assefa:                     VP, Ethiopian Airlines
  • Chief Allen Onyema:      Chairman Air Peace
  • Captain Solomon Quianoo:          Africa’s Top A380 Pilot (Ghana)
  • Chief Togbe Afede:         Chairman Africa World Airlines (Ghana)

TOURISM MEDIA:

  • Prof. Wolfgang Thome: ATC News (Uganda)
  • Jason Njoku:                      Publisher & Promoter IROKO TV Nigeria

TOURISM ADMINISTRATION: 

  • Najib Balala:                       Tourism Minister Kenya and CAF UNWTO President
  • Elcia Grandcourt:              Africa Representative UNWTO (Seychelles)
  • Alain St. Ange:                   Former Minister of Tourism Seychelles
  • Amb Dr. Eriaka Bennett:                 Head of mission AU Diaspora office

HOSPITALITY/ FACILITY OWNERS:

  • Ato Tadiwos Belete:       Kuriftu Resort (Ethiopia)
  • Tony Elumelu:               Chairman Transcorp Hotels (Nigeria)
  • Oskar Ibru:                    Ibru Organisations leading Hospitality Investor (Nigeria)
  • Professor Nzamujo:       Proprietor Songhai integrated Agricultural centre (Benin)
  • Mr Samih Sawiris:            Proprietor El Gouna Resort (Egypt)

TRAVEL BUSINESS:

  • Julie Dably Scott:              Kenya Travel Business Executive (CWT)
  • Femi Adefope:                  Nigeria Travel Business Owner ( HRG, CWT, GHI, APG)
  • Richard Akerele:               Logistics and Airlines Support Services (ASL Newrest)
  • Taiwo Afolabi:                   Chairman SIFAX Airport Logistics

TOUR OPERATIONS:

  • Zainab Anseil:                    Zara Tours Tanzania
  • Uloma Egbuna:                 Tour Brokers Intl, Emirate Holidays, Royal Caribbean (Nigeria)
  • Amos Wekesa:                  Ugandan Tour Operator

MICE PROMOTERS:  

  • Peace Anyiam Osigwe:  Convener Africa Movie Academy Awards, AMAA
  • Ben Murray Bruce:          Silverbird Galleria and Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria
  • Governor Ben Ayade:    Organiser Carnival Calabar
  • Rick Taylor:                      MICE Expert (South Africa)
  • Rabbi Kohan:                    Executive Director Panafest (Ghana)
  • Tom Kunkler:                     Organiser Kilifair and S!TE (Tanzania)

HERITAGE & CULTURE:

  • Prof. Zahi Hawass:           Egyptologist & Former Curator of the Heritage of the Pharaohs
  • HRM Adeyeye Ogunwusi:            Ooni of Ife Promoter of Olojo Festival
  • HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi:          Emir of Kano, Custodian of Kano Walls and Durbar Festival
  • HRM Erediauwa Ewuare II:          Oba of Benin, Custodian of Benin Moat and Igue Festival
  • HRH Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe:       Obi of Onitsha, Promoter of Ofala Festival
  • HRM King Mswati III:                 King of Eswatini, Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival
  • Otumfuo Osei Tutu II:    Akwasidae Festival (Kumasi, Ghana)

As Ghana celebrates 2019 as the “Year of Return” in commemoration of the 400th year anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved African to set foot on American soil in 1619, I couldn’t help but think it should actually be tagged as the “Year of Returns.” Hey, I’m not trying to be a smarty-panty getting into semantics and stuff like that. I’m just an excited traveller who sort of likes Ghana – yeah, it’s a bit hard to admit that, but I do like Ghana – even if I vehemently maintain that Ghana Jollof is a myth lodged in the medulla of the Ghanaian people. You have to speak the truth in love, and I speak that in love.

Anyway, 2019 is the Year of Returns. There are enough reasons to make repeated trips to Ghana. The 5th Accra Weizo was the first for me and what that event has done is opened up a great yearning for Ghana returns. Indeed, Ghana has lined up a host of colourful activities throughout the entire year to mark the celebrations. As the year has gone past the halfway mark, many of the activities have taken place, but there’s still a whole lot more to come – and I honestly hope to participate in some of them. Let me say that again for emphasis: I honestly hope to participate in some of the remaining activities put together to celebrate the Year of Return. (Someone should tell the relevant authorities in Ghana.)

This exordium is already getting too long – all I want to talk about is my Accra Weizo 2019 Ghana experience, so let’s get right down to it.

I was excited going back – no, let’s use returning to Ghana instead – after all it’s the Year of Return. I had been to Ghana twice previously. The first time was okay, I was very much a wary traveller, so I couldn’t get much.

Cape Coast Castle: My first visit to Ghana in 2015

However, last year showed me a new side of the country formerly known as Gold Coast. It was all thanks to Accra Weizo 2018. We had a familiarisation tour of the Volta and Eastern Regions. The topography of the Volta Region in particularly struck a chord in me and I feel deep in my bones I should own a piece of property in Ho.

Accra Weizo 2018: At the Akosombo Dam, Lake Volta

Now, some of you can understand why I wanted to marry some Ghanaians. It’s pretty simple: I was told if you marry a Ghanaian, you’ll be given land. So I figured if married a couple of Ghanaian ladies, I’ll have enough land. Anyway, every lady I asked on this return trip to Ghana says it’s not true. Well, I forgive you all – and forgive myself. I still love Ghana though.

The Western and Central Regions of Ghana had been advertised by the organisers of Accra Weizo as the destination for this year’s familiarisation tour, and I looked forward to it with much excitement. My first visit to Ghana took me to Cape Coast and Elmina in the Central Region. I was supposed to get to the twin cities of Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region, but I never made it there. So I was really fired up for this trip. It was a chance to see Cape Coast again and then finally set my foot on the Western Region.

We set out from Lagos, Nigeria on Monday June 24. We – a couple of media persons selected by the organisers of Accra Weizo – arrived late at the Golden Tulip, Accra some minutes past 23:00 hours. (Yeah, some little hindrances happened along the way, but we don’t want to mess up a good narrative now, do we)?

…to be continued…

Accra, the capital city of Ghana played host once again to West Africa’s regional travel and tourism expo, the Accra Weizo and La Palm Royal Beach Hotel was once again the venue of the two-day event which brought together travel and tourism industry professionals from West Africa and other parts.

Jointly organised by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Ikechi Uko-led Akwaaba African Travel Market (AfTM), the fifth Accra Weizo opened on Friday June 28, 2019. In his address, Ghana’s Minister of Aviation, Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda noted that despite the increased liberalization of the African aviation industry, some African governments are still hesitant on opening their skies due to fear that foreign competition could undercut their national carriers, some of which are short of commercial viability and merely symbols of sovereignty. He stated however that;

“Ghana on the other hand believes in the liberalization of the skies to boost connectivity and had shown commitment to this by being amongst the African countries who have signed to the Yamoussoukro decision (YD) and SAATM. For West Africa to realise its full potential growth, much emphasis must be placed on connectivity and ease of movement of passengers and goods across borders.

However, enhancing connectivity within the sub-region goes hand in hand with increasing the level of safety and security. These two should be key priorities for the development of seamless travel in the West African and the development of the aviation industry as a whole. The African authorities have endorsed an African Union (AU) backed plan aimed at addressing deficiencies related to aviation safety and security and strengthening the regulatory framework.”

For West Africa to realise its full potential growth, much emphasis must be placed on connectivity and ease of movement of passengers and goods across borders.

He further stated that: “Seamless air transportation will create the market opportunities for local entrepreneurs by creating regional and global economic centers. This is in line with plans of Government in its facilitation of the Continental free trade Area (CFTA) by the Africa Union.  Growth in air transport has directly maps into economic growth due to spill over effects through creation of direct and indirect jobs in the industry and other auxiliary sectors such as tourism and other services sectors. By facilitating tourism and trade, it generates economic growth, improves living standards, alleviates poverty and increases revenue from taxes.”

Several goodwill messages were delivered by various top industry gurus present at the event. Among them was the irrepressible Director-General of the National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC) of Nigeria and recipient of the 2019 Balafon Travel Award for Tourism Man of the Year, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe who took the audience on a history lesson of the mutual camaraderie between Nigeria and Ghana.

The Nigeria-Ghana Friendship club is to champion the course for the unity, peace, stability and development of Nigeria and Ghana in particular and the West Africa sub-region at large.

Citing examples of several football legends like Yakubu Mabo who played for Nigeria and scored the first goal at the Nigeria National Stadium when it was commissioned in the ‘70s, Otunba Runsewe pointed out that Mabo was actually Ghanaian born. He also mentioned Abdul Razak who captained the Black Stars of Ghana but was actually a Nigerian, among several others. Otunba Runsewe then seized the opportunity to propose the Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Club, which was adopted and subsequently launched later in the day. According to Otunba Runsewe;

“As brothers and neighbours, there is a lot Nigeria and Ghana stand to gain by evolving informal platforms of collaborations and strengthened sub-regional solidarity.

The Nigeria-Ghana Friendship club is to champion the course for the unity, peace, stability and development of Nigeria and Ghana in particular and the West Africa sub-region at large.”

Other goodwill messages were delivered by the Director of Dubai Tourism (Africa), Ms. Stella Fubara; Mr. Austin Cobham, Executive Secretary of Carnival Calabar Commission; Thekiso Rakolojane, Regional Head of South African Tourism (West Africa); Mrs. Olanma Ojukwu (GOTA Voyage, Benin Republic), etc.

Stella Fubara
Austin Cobham
Thekiso Rakolojane
Olanma Ojukwu

The day featured two panels of discussion on aviation and M.I.C.E. respectively, and the presentation of the Balafon Travel Awards, while entertainment interludes to spice things up was provided by the Calabar Carnival queens.

*Images of award presentation and launch of Nigeria-Ghana Friendship Club courtesy of GH-Aviation.

All is set for the 2019 Accra Weizo travel and tourism expo which kicks off today 28-06-2019 at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra Ghana. Stakeholders, exhibitors, buyers and other participants have already arrived in the Ghanaian capital, Accra for the West African regional travel trade show which is in its fifth year.

The two-day event which will feature panel discussions and paper presentations, Balafon Awards, as well as exhibitions, product launch and a host of entertainment activities is set to become the biggest in the history of the expo which is being jointly organised this time around by Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Akwaaba African Travel Market.

Part of activities lined up for today include a paper presentation by Hon. Koffi Adda, the Minister of Aviation, Ghana titled SEAMLESS TRAVEL IN WEST AFRICA: Challenges & Prospects of Inter-Connecting West Africa; while a panel of discussants to be moderated by Mr. Ikechi Uko the founder of ATQNews.com will deliberate on the topic: Passenger Experience, Civil Aviation Rules & Immigration Processes in Inter-Connecting West Africa.

Other activities for the day are the presentation of the Balafon Awards, and a paper presentation on M.I.C.E. titled Using M.I.C.E to Drive Tourism. There will also be a panel to discuss The Business of Hosting Conferences & Events.

Day 2 of Accra Weizo will feature a paper presentation titled, Culinary Tourism as a Tool for Differentiating Country Brands by the Director General (DG) of the Nigeria Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe with a panel discussion following. There will be a second panel discussion on Using Entertainment to Drive Tourism in West Africa while exhibitions, networking and other activities continues until the event draws to a close later in the evening.

Earlier in the week, the GTA hosted a group of Nigerian tour operators and media persons on a familiarisation tour of the Western region of Ghana. The tour included visits to Nzulezu floating village, Cape Coast Castle and site inspections of some spectacular accommodation facilities like the luxurious Maaha Beach Resort in Anokyi. The group was hosted to a dinner by the Minister of the Western Region, Hon. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah and members of his cabinet in Takoradi on Wednesday June 26.

All is set for the 2019 Balafon Awards of excellence in tourism across the West African region as the organisers are set to honoured this year’s worthy winners at the fifth Accra Weizo taking place June 28-29, in Accra, Ghana.

The 2019 Accra Weizo is jointly organised by Akwaaba Travel Market and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). Last year, at the World Travel Market (WTM London), the GTA signed a 5 year MOU with Akwaaba Travel Market to effect a bigger and better Accra Weizo.

Below is the list of the 2019 Balafon Awards winners:

  • Travel Personality of the Year in West AfricaChief Allen Onyeama (AirPeace)
  • Tourism Man of the Year in West AfricaOtunba Segun Runsewe – DG, Nigeria Council For Art and Culture
  • Aviation Man of the Year in West AfricaCaptain Solomon Quianoo (Ghana)
  • Hotel Personality of the Year in West AfricaAmaechi Ndili – Golden Tulip West Africa
  • Best Airline in West Africa – African World Airline (AWA)
  • Best Hotel in West AfricaKempinski Goldcoast City Hotel
  • Best Airport in West Africa (for government agencies) Kotoka International Airport, Ghana
  • Best Ground Handling Company in West AfricaSkyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL)
  • Best Tourism Marketing Agency in West AfricaGhana Tourism Authority
  • Best Tourism Event of the Year in West AfricaCarnival Calabar, Nigeria

Top twenty (20) Conference centers in West Africa

  • Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana
  • Kempinski Goldcoast City Hotel, Ghana
  • La Palm Royal Beach, Accra, Ghana.
  • Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Labadi Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Alisa Hotel North ridge, Ghana.
  • Abuja International Conference Centre , Nigeria
  • Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Abuja Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Eko Hotel & Suites Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • The Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Muson Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • King Fahd Palace Hotel, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Salle de conference, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Kairaba Beach Hotel, Gambia
  • Coral Beach, Brufut, Gambia.
  • Palais des Congress, Cotonou, Benin.
  • Hotel du 2 Fevrier, Lome Togo.
  • Sofitel Abidjan Hotel I’voire, Abidjan
  • Hotel President, Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire

African Travel Quarterly (ATQ), has released the list of winners of the 2019 edition of the prestigious Balafon Awards who will be honoured at the 5th Accra Weizo scheduled for June 2019.

The Balafon Awards of Excellence is annually organized as part of the West African travel and tourism fair, Accra Weizo, to recognize leading industry players within the ECOWAS region. This year, the focus of the Balafon Awards is on the leading and best conference facilities in West Africa. Winners in the various categories were selected from a list of nominations which ended on June 3, 2019.

The 5th Accra Weizo is a collaborative venture between its initiators, Akwaaba Travel Market and Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). Last year, at the World Travel Market (WTM London), the GTA signed a 5 year MOU with Akwaaba Travel Market to effect a bigger and better Accra Weizo. Prior to the MOU, the tourism expo had been organized for the past four years by Akwaaba Travel Market. The event is scheduled for June 28th and 29th.

Earlier in Accra this week, the GTA and stakeholders launched the 2019 Women In Tourism Summit along with Accra Weizo. The summit which is in its second year, has as its theme: Empowering Women in Ghana’s Tourism Industry. It is scheduled for June 27, preceding Accra Weizo which takes place on June 28 and 29.

Deputy Executive Director (Finance & Administration) of the GTA, Isaac Adomako–Mensah, said both the summit and fair have become part of the major events to promote tourism in the country since their inception. He noted that the fair was geared towards getting West Africans to cooperate with each other, while creating a seamless travel environment in the region by bringing together travel professionals to network in Accra.

The GTA will host delegates on a 3-day familiarization tour of the Greater Accra, Western and Central regions from June 25 to 27. Some of the places to see include Nzulezu, Ankasa Conservation Area, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, Secondi European Town, and the Cape Coast Castle.

2019 BALAFON Awards Winners (West African Travel & Tourism)

  • Travel Personality of the Year in West AfricaChief Allen Onyeama (AirPeace)
  • Tourism Man of the Year in West AfricaOtunba Segun Runsewe- DG, Nigeria Council For Art and Culture
  • Aviation Man of the Year in West AfricaCaptain Solomon Quianoo (Ghana)
  • Hotel Personality of the Year in West AfricaAmaechi Ndili – Golden Tulip West Africa
  • Best Airline in West Africa – African World Airline (AWA)
  • Best Hotel in West AfricaKempinski Goldcoast City Hotel
  • Best Airport in West Africa (for government agencies) Kotoka International Airport, Ghana
  • Best Ground Handling Company in West AfricaSkyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL)
  • Best Tourism Marketing Agency in West AfricaGhana Tourism Authority
  • Best Tourism Event of the Year in West AfricaCarnival Calabar, Nigeria

Top twenty (20) Conference centers in West Africa

  • Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana
  • Kempinski Goldcoast City Hotel, Ghana
  • La Palm Royal Beach, Accra, Ghana.
  • Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Labadi Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Alisa Hotel North ridge, Ghana.
  • Abuja International Conference Centre , Nigeria
  • Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Abuja Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Eko Hotel & Suites Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • The Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Muson Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • King Fahd Palace Hotel, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Salle de conference, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Kairaba Beach Hotel, Gambia
  • Coral Beach, Brufut, Gambia.
  • Palais des Congress, Cotonou, Benin.
  • Hotel du 2 Fevrier, Lome Togo.
  • Sofitel Abidjan Hotel I’voire, Abidjan
  • Hotel President, Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire

Sourced from ATQNews.com

I slept long and by the time I got up the sun was very much up. I took a stroll down the deserted beach before returning to my room to freshen up. After brekkie, I checked Eumeuh and discovered another guy at the reception. He told me Eumeuh would come later in the afternoon.

My own private beach I guess…
Breakfast…

I called Adama and he instead asked me to come over to his office on Rue Blaise Diagne. I don’t know anywhere here, dude! He told me it was pretty easy, I should take a cab. I asked the guy at the reception to call a cabbie and soon I was on my way to meet Adama.

The inevitable calèche along Rue Hydrobase

It was past midday and being a Friday, it will soon be time for the Juma’at prayers, Adama pointed out when I got to his place. He told me we could do a tour of the island later in the day when the sun was no longer as intense as it was. Adama is not a bad guy, but he didn’t seem to understand that I was time bound. I had imagine we could explore places like Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, Langue de Barbarie, etc. I understand though. Friday prayers couldn’t be missed.

I took a walk around parts of the island before returning to the hotel. I noticed the shops and market emptied and no one was available to sell because it was prayer time, and I needed to get a new adapter. Eumeuh was around, by the time I got back to the hotel. We got talking and he mentioned Club Papayer, because I told him I needed to get contacts of the various night spots. He gave me his number and asked me to call him in the evening, he would come and take me there.

The new Pont Masseck Ndiaye connecting island to peninsula

I went to my room and took some rest. Later around 16:00hrs, I called Adama if he was ready, and he said I should start coming. This guy drives a hard bargain. I made my way out of Hotel Djamarek and hurried along Rue Hydrobase since I couldn’t get a taxi. I eventually rode on a calèche and met Adama at the foot of the old bridge waiting with a calèche. He is a very knowledgeable guide in spite of everything.

Place Faidherbe
I apologise to PETA, Adama cut the horse’s neck off
The oldest cathedral in West Africa
Riding through the narrow alleys of N’Dar
Youths playing on the streets of N’Dar
Chamber of Commerce
The Grand Mosque
Pont Faidherbe

Later in the evening, we went to the various night spots, but they were much low-keyed. It was Friday. I returned to the hotel and called Eumeuh. He came over and we went to Club Papayer. It was empty.

Pont Faidherbe at night
La Saigonnaise restaurant & bar
Flamingo Restaurant, Hotel de la Poste
Club Papayer
Eumeuh in front of Club Papayer

West Africa’s leading carrier, Air Peace has said it will begin non-stop flights from Lagos to Banjul, The Gambia from Monday, January 7.

The airline said it would no longer route its Lagos-Banjul flights through Accra, Ghana. The carrier had earlier broken its connecting flights to Freetown, Sierra Leone. It now operates direct Lagos-Freetown-Lagos flights.

In a related development, Air Peace said it was consolidating its leadership of air services on the West Coast of Africa with scheduling of more flights on the Accra, Ghana route.
The development, the carrier said, would avail travellers an exciting opportunity to cut cost and travel time. It pledged to continue to adjust its schedules to better serve its customers on the West Coast of Africa.

“We are pleased to announce the commencement of our non-stop flights to Banjul, the capital city of The Gambia, from Monday, January 7, 2019. We had routed our flights to Banjul through Accra, Ghana. The new schedule follows our experiment with direct flights from Lagos to Freetown. The pieces of feedback we have received from members of the flying public indicate that they prefer to take direct flights to Freetown and Banjul. The option saves air travellers money and time.

“We have also increased our offering on the Lagos-Accra with more flights. The new Banjul and Accra flight operations,we are sure, will not only deepen our West Coast operations, but also deliver a variety of smart options to our valued customers. We are a customer-centric airline and the strategy of our leadership of the airline business in Nigeria and West Africa is anchored on attaching great importance to the feedback of our esteemed customers,” Air Peace said.

Source: ATQNews