United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Therefore, to commemorate WORLD TOURISM DAY 2017, my company, Nene-Uwa Hub Ltd in partnership with TVP Adventures and a host of about 40 tourism and environmental enthusiasts partook in a voluntary BEACH CLEAN-UP & TREE PLANTING project to correlate with this year’s theme which is “SUSTAINABLE TOURISM – A TOOL FOR DEVELOPMENT”. It was hosted at Gberefu Island also known as “Point of No Return” located at Badagry, Lagos State. The idea is to create awareness on the benefits of being ECO-FRIENDLY and helping to sustain tourist destinations by encouraging people to be guardians of our natural resources.
OUR VIDEO CAMPAIGN OF OUR PROJECT BY ANIMATE NG
Our event was submitted to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and International Year of Sustainable (IYST) websites and it was approved. See here and here.
THE BEACH CLEAN-UP IDEA
The Beach Clean-up project idea came up when Funmi Oyatogun, the Founder of TVP Adventures and I had an interview at the Point of No Return beach with Ugochi Oluigbo, the presenter for ‘Green Angle’ on TVC Continental TV. She inspired us to do a beach cleanup which led to Funmi and I’s partnership. You can watch our interview on their YouTube page.
THE JOURNEY TO GBEREFU ISLAND, BADAGRY
On Saturday 30th September, 2017, we were blessed with showers of rain as early as 6am. But it didn’t stop us from getting to our pick up point at National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. We headed to Badagry at around 8:30am and arrived in about two hours. After we, the organizer, paid our respect to the Baale through one of his grandson’s, we headed to the jetty for our boat ride to Gberefu Island. At the island, some of us stopped to buy some local made products from a local souvenir shop. As we took the 20 minutes’ walk to the Point of No Return, our tour guide, simply known as Cornerstone, gave us a tour and history of the Badagry Slave Trade.
BEACH CLEAN-UP AND TREE PLANTING EXERCISE
On the way to the beach, our mini coconut trees arrived in a truck and we each picked a tree or two. At the beach, we were joined by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism officials situated in Badagry and some local residents to clean up some parts of the littered beach. We geared up with our gloves, face masks, trash bags, racks and enough energy to commence the clean up. As one of Nigeria’s prominent tourism landmarks, this beach was the ideal location to carry out our campaign for sustainable tourism. The shoreline is eroding quickly and the white-sand beach is constantly littered with trash from visitors as well as wash-back from the ocean. The cleaning exercise took about one hour with the sun rays blazing down on us. The top of my head is still to recover from the sun-stroke!
After the cleaning exercise, we planted 40 mini coconut trees along the shoreline as a way of leaving our footprint of impact. It was an exciting exercise. Everyone got to plant a tree alone or in pairs. Some of us even named and prayed over our coconut trees. I named my tree ‘NDU’ meaning ‘LIFE’ in my native language, Igbo. It felt good doing something meaningful for the Gberefu community.
After a hard day’s work, we were blessed with fresh coconuts which were graciously paid by one of our dear volunteers. I am not a coconut fan, but I have falling in love with Badagry fresh coconuts. The coconut water is so sweet and refreshing, exactly what we needed for the hot weather. And the inside is creamy and delicious (My mother will be surprised to read this because I hated anything coconut while growing up…Lol!).
We then headed straight back to the ‘POINT OF RETURN’ (Lol!) and took a boat ride back to where our buses were waiting. On the bus, we had our delicious lunch of jollof rice with chicken, fish and plantain. We also had Wild Juice, Nigeria’s 1st Sugarcane juice which was our ‘Official Juice’ for the trip. The volunteers loved it so much that they kept asking for more. It sure was a great energy booster.
Our ride back to the National Stadium took about 4 hours, thanks to the famous Lagos traffic. The last bus finally arrived at about 8:30pm and everyone bid each other greetings.
I would like to say a big thank you to our partners, sponsors and contributors for helping to make this event a success. Thank you to those who prayed cheered and encouraged all the way. Truly appreciate. Also a shout out to our volunteers, you guys were the real MVPs of this project. God bless you for taking out time to be Responsible Tourists and Environmentalists.
I would also like to thank the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture for granting us permission to do this project.
All professional photos were taken by our awesome photographer, Racheal Oreoluwa Awolowo.
Tell me how you spent World Tourism Day in your country/city/location. I would really like to know. Hit the reply button and share.