Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

The 10th edition of Domestic Tourism Expo, which recently held at Onikan Museum, Lagos, had experts and stakeholders brainstorming on how to make Nigeria a great travel destination in Africa.

In her opening address, Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Lola Ade-John, urged Nigerians to preserve the nation’s historical and cultural assets for posterity.

She said, “Nigeria is a beautiful country. People pay a lot to see gorillas, go on water, and we have them all; the only thing we do not have is our sense of pride. That has to change. We need to love this country.”

The event, which featured a photo exhibition of over 1,000 tourist sites cutting across the 36 states of the nation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, had in attendance stakeholders in tourism, hospitality, and policymaking among others.

The minister added: “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that these treasures remain intact for years to come so that others may experience the same sense of awe and wonder that we feel today. In order to achieve this, we must carry along our people. Community engagement is vital to the preservation of our assets and history.”

Dayo Adedayo, British-trained Nigerian documentary photographer, called on the federal government to open up the presidential mansion, Aso Rock Villa, for local and international tourists.

According to him, Nigeria could earn huge revenue like the United Kingdom gets from the Buckingham Palace. “Aso Rock, being the seat of power in Nigeria, with beautiful structures and attractive landscape and greenery in its surroundings, could be a good source of revenue for the nation,” he noted.

On her part, Nneka Isaac-Moses of Goge Africa called on the federal government to invest in training and capacity building for professionals in the industry. She appealed to the government at all levels to support funding and create an enabling environment for tourism businesses to thrive.

Also, Mrs Ime Udom, national president, Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), spoke on the contributions of tour operators toward growing the industry.

To her, tour operators, over the years, have been able to unravel new tourism sites, promote and drive traffic to such sites. She, however, called on the government to work directly with tour operators and ensure provision of grants for them, to be able to do more.

Ibrahim Makanjuola, founder of Nigeria Tourism Lovers, said accessing some of the nation’s tourist sites was problematic due to poor road network.

“Security personnel should also be sensitised on the business of tourism. Government should help us, as we are often harassed by security operatives while on tour. They see us as youths gallivanting around, and as fraudsters. These security personnel must be taught the business of tourism,” he stated.

The major highlight of the event was the presentation of Travellers Awards to some individuals who have contributed toward promoting tourism in the country.

Ekiti, Abia, Enugu, Edo and Cross River States won the Most Active Tourism States of the Year 2023 awards, while Governor Eno Umo emerged Governor of the Year 2023.

Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) won the 2023 Tourism Chief Executive Officer award. Ibom Air bagged award for the Best Airline in 2023, Mrs Ime Udom won Tourism Promoter of the Year award, while Ekiti and Akwa Ibom States were named the Most Sought-after States.

Favour Udom emerged Tourism Photographer of the Year with Funke Ogunkoya-Futi scooping Travel Communicator of the Year award. 100 practitioners who were trained in tourism promotion were inducted into the Tourism 100 Club.

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