During my NYSC days, I worked as a Tour Operator with a tour operating company, Tour Brokers International (TBI). After NYSC, I never left my love for tourism and travel, as I became TBI’s client and tour package promoter. They organized my first wanderlust trip to Dubai (See here) and my dream cruise trip to the Mediterranean (See here).
To keep me updated with the tourism and travel industry, I follow some sites such as Africa Travel News (ATQNews). I received their mail on the upcoming Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) Conference and AGM 2017 which held on May 2nd, 2017. I was excited to attend so as to mingle and learn from the Nigerian tourism and travel experts.
The President of NATOP, Mr. Nkereuwem Onung, gave the welcome address. Some of the guest speakers were Ex-Governor of Cross-River state, Senate Liyel Imoke, who is a huge promoter of tourism and helped to make Cross-River a Tourism State, Mr. Folorunsho Coker, the Director General of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture. I particularly enjoyed Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s speech. Read here. It shows how committed the government is now taking the Nigerian Tourism industry.
A Youth Panel Session was conducted which included the following Tourism Enthusiasts and promoters of both Nigeria and Africa tourism:
Chiamaka Obuekwe of Social Prefect Tours;
Pelu Awofeso of Travel Nextdoor;
Sam Adeleke of Afrotourism;
Allen Effeh of Ibom Tourism;
Wole Olapade of Tribune and
John Paul Ezeani of Enugu State Tourism
They spoke on the “Challenges Facing Youth in Promoting Tourism”. The issues that stood out were the lack of government support to help develop the tourism industry (Well thank goodness, Alhaji Mohammed clarified that issue in his speech), bad infrastructures (most especially the terrible roads!) and the nonchalant attitude of some of the tourist sites.
Like both Sen. Liyel Imoke and Mr. Folorunsho Coker, Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, literally said tourism can ‘never go dry’ because it is a description of who we are as Nigerians…Our culture…Our heritage…Our landmarks…Our monuments. We need to focus on developing our tourism industry to create more jobs, increase national GDP and help to develop Nigeria in general (e.g. reduce poverty rate).
My final year university project was on “Tourism and Development in Nigeria: An Examination of the Nexus”. Olumo Rock at Abeokuta, Ogun State and Badagry Slave Trade, Lagos State, were my case studies. I had so much fun doing that project because I was literally seeing tourism as a “Gold-mine”…one of the solutions for my dear nation. By the way, I earned an A+ in my project which gave me a strong 2.1. Just had to add that 😁
I have always loved to promote tourism in Nigeria and Africa. And I am elated with the movement of bringing tourism to the fore-front in the African continent. The beauty about this is that we have many foreigners from other continents who actually want to visit our Motherland but are a bit skeptical because of the several un-rest in Africa such as religious issues (Boko Haram) and civil wars (South Sudan saga). But with this movement, they would be encouraged to make the leap to visit and explore Nigeria and Africa.
I am a huge promoter of exploring your motherland aka domestic tourism. Though I have not done enough of that, but working on it 😉 God bless recession! 😁 It has made us, Nigerians to explore our nation and Mother Africa by force! It’s nice hearing our own people say how blessed and beautiful Nigeria is. The more we explore our nation, the better for us. It would enlighten and enable us to preserve our cultural heritage…our treasures.
So let’s continue to advertise and sell Nigeria and Africa to the World by making them attractive domestic and international vacation/tourist destinations.