The day of my first Social Media Week (SMW) Lagos event finally came and I was nervous. This was the first time I was hosting such an event. Thank goodness for a great support system, I was able to smash it like a pro! *shines teeth*
To know how to plan, host and smash your first SMW Lagos event, check out this write up and be inspired *wink*
Our first session which was on “Sustainable Toursim: A Tool for Community Development” held on Tuesday 27th February, 2018 at SMW Lagos AfricanNXT section. The theme for that day was #TravelAfricaDay. The theme ‘serves as a gathering of key stakeholders in Africa’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry to collaborate and discuss the future of travel’.
THE SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PANEL
The following questions were asked and discussed during the panel:
(1) What does Sustainable Tourism mean to you?
Everyone on the panel agreed that Sustainable Tourism is using tourism to make impact at tourist destinations one visits. They all emphasized the importance of the three pillars of Sustainable Tourism: People, Profit and Planet.
Ugochi hit the nail on the head by explaining that Sustainable Tourism does not start when you actually travel, it starts before you travel. What are you doing to create awareness about the places you plan to visit and explore? How do you plan to leave the place you visit better than when you arrived? What foot prints are you leaving as a tourist?
(2) How have you been able to apply and practice Sustainable Tourism in your business?
Sikemi gave instances on how Tambollo tours gives back to the communities they visit as a way of encouraging community engagement between the tourists and the host community members.
Funmi explained how important it is when TVP Adventures organizes a tour, that people see what they have done to try to be as sustainable as possible.
(3) How can we, as Tourism Enthusiasts, encourage people especially travelers/tourists to practice Sustainable Tourism?
Funmi emphasized on the need for travelers/tourist to be more Eco-friendly. She spoke about the Badagry Beach Clean-up and Tree Planting event she did with us, Nene-Uwa to celebrate World Tourism Day last year. It helped to create awareness on the benefits of the keeping the beach shorelines clean and being Responsible Tourists and Environmentalists.
Atabo advises tourists to mingle with community members by eating their local meals, using their public transport and generally become a local in that community.
Sikemi talked about how she encourages her clients to interact more with the locals at tourist communities they visit. She says it helps tourists to appreciate and learn more about these communities.
(4) How can we as individuals come together as a community to develop the tourism industry in Nigeria?
Ugochi recently witnessed a fisher man who killed an endangered sea turtles at Jamestown, Ghana. His reason was that he needed to sell it to make money for his children’s school fees. She advised that it is important we educated not only tourist/travelers but the community members about the harm such activities does to the eco-system. This also destroys Eco-Tourism potentials for a community.
Atabo is currently running a project at Ado-Awaye in Oyo State, Nigeria where one of the only two suspended lakes in the world is situated. He emphasized on the important of educating host communities of these tourist destinations about the benefits tourism brings to their community.
(5) How can we use social media platforms to campaign for Sustainable Tourism?
The panel agreed that the use of Social Media has helped increase awareness about the use of tourism as a tool for development.
Sikemi talked about her NGO platform Tambollo Cares, how she uses her social media platform to show places they visit and how they give back to those communities.
Funmi talked about how she shares her love for nature during her tours on her social media.
Atabo talked about how he gives tips and share experiences about applying Sustainable Tourism on his social media platforms.
Ugochi shares her Eco-Journalist adventures and how she campaigns for a Greener World on her social media platforms.
(6) What advise would you give to Travel and Tourism organizations on using Sustainable Tourism as a tool in their business?
The panel advised fellow travel and tourism organizations to try and use tourism as a tool for community development. They could give back by funding projects that would help build host communities of tourist destinations. They could also get involved in activities that benefit these communities. In general, they advised leaving positive footprints which future generation would see and appreciate.
END OF SESSION
After the Q & A session, we had some give-aways. Funmi gave out a discount for TVP Adventures upcoming tour to Abeokuta to those in attendance. Sikemi gave an all expense tour package to one of Tambollo’s group tour to one person. Atabo offered three people interested in visiting Ado-Awaye one night free accommodation.
We were privileged to have the Alado of Ado-Awaye from Oyo State, where one of the only two suspended lakes in the world is situated (The other is in Colorado, USA), grace our event.
DOWNSIDE OF EVENT
Based on the registration and attendance list on the SMW Lagos website, I was expecting more guests. I later found out that some attendees were not aware of the AfricaNXT venue. Some ended up coming late while others didn’t find it. This was the first time the AfricaNXT venue was used for SMW Lagos and it was the 2nd day of the event. So attendees were still getting familiar with the venue.
Despite that the event turned out great. After our session, some guests approached me to inform me that they learned a lot from our session. The speakers were glad with how the panel went. And everyone in attendance had a good time.
For my Afrocentric look, I partnered with some ‘Made-In-Naija’ brands. For this session, I rocked the following:
A big thanks and kudos to the SMW Lagos team for this awesome initiative and platform. And I thank God for the opportunity to share my passion for development in the Tourism space with an awesome panel. I am looking forward to hosting once again at SMW Lagos 2019 Loading….
Photo Credit: Sir Inyene Photography