Black Meetings and Tourism

Nov/Dec 2011

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THETRAVEL INDUSTRY LOSES A GIANT Memorium T0 Mamadou Moustapha Diop The travel worldmourns the loss of a travel giant with the passingMamadou Moustapha Diop August 14, 2011 at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Known simply as Moustapha to his friends and business associates, he leaves behind a long and distinguished legacy in every aspect of the travel and hospital- ity industries. Moustapha, a native of Senegal, West Africa started his career in the hospitality industry in 1974 when at the young age of twenty-one, he took a job at The Dialogue Hotel in Libreville, Gabon. He later moved to the Hotel des Almadies in Dakar, Senegal before distinguishing himself at Hotel Independence and The Hacienda Hotel, both in Dakar. Later Moustapha would move to management at The Novetel Hotel in Dakar. During his long and distinguished career in the hospitality industry, Moustapha came in contact with and addressed the concerns of many hotel guests from around the world. He was a true gentleman and his diplomatic and calming personality immedi- ately put people at ease. Moustapha worked two different stints at the Novetel Hotel, and in between them, he started his own tour company, Heritage Tours Senegal in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He later changed the company's name to Phisco International. Although, the company conducted leisure and business tours for clients from around the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, his largest and most sought after clientele were African-Americans from throughout the United States. Moustapha traveled often to the United States promoting his tours to travel agents, tour operators and tour organizers, as well as to churches and other organizations. His in-depth knowledge of the hospitality and travel industry as well as the history and geography of Senegal and West Africa was a big plus in promoting his business. Phisco International handled all group sizes of African-Americans anxious to learn about their West African heritage and culture. The company hosted one such group totaling over three hundred people for an African-American radio and televi- sion entrepreneur that organized a wedding and reception in Senegal. In addition to heritage and business tours, Phisco International also conducted Ecotourism, showcasing West Africa's flora and fauna. If you wanted to see any country in West Africa, Moustapha could put you in touch with the right person or people for business or leisure travel. He collaborated with ground tour operators and travel agents in Senegal, Mali, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, and other West African countries to facilitate seamless travel for clients wanting to see different countries in the region. Moustapha did not fear competition and never spoke negatively of his business competitors. In fact, he readily provided information to those wanting to start their businesses in the travel and hospitality industries. Several of Phisco International's former tour guides went on to start their own travel businesses, armed with the knowledge they had learned at Phisco International. Moustapha was a stranger to no one and his fluency in French, English, and Wolof, his native Senegalese language that is also spoken by many in The Gambia and Southern Mali, allowed him to converse easily with people from different parts of the world. He was a longtime member of the African Travel Association (ATA), which promotes tourism to Africa. Not forgetting the children, Moustapha regularly arranged summer camp for Senegalese and other West African children and personally accompanied them to the U.S.A., Morocco, Spain and other countries to educate and expose them to the out- side world. Moustapha was an entrepreneur at heart and was successful not only in the hospitality and travel industries, but was also once a restaurateur and owner of a boutique with his wife, Penda. Moustapha promoted music and art festivals of the African Diaspora leveraging music, art and travel. He founded FESTAM, an international festival of music and art that brought together artists including musicians, painters and poets from throughout the African Diaspora to perform in Dakar. From FESTAM's founding in 1994 to 2001, Moustapha collaborated with John Watusi Branch, of the Afrikan Poetry Theatre, Jamaica, New York to promote the festival, bringing big name stars together to perform in Dakar. A true lover of the arts, Mustapha tirelessly promoted the third World Black Festival or Arts and Cultures that was held in Senegal in December 2010. He was in Atlanta, Georgia attending the Black Arts Festival in July 2011 and promoting his tours for Black History Month 2012 in Senegal when he fell ill and was taken to Emory University Hospital. Still in his prime, Moustapha quietly slipped away early August 14, 2011, six days before reaching his 58th birthday. After a viewing of Moustapha's remains by friends and some family members in Harlem, New York, he took his final trip back across the 26 Black Meetings & Tourism November/December 2011:

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