By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
To improve the travel culture within the country, encourage local tourism to boost Internally generated revenue (IGR), the Nigeria Travel Week is set for its second edition taking place on November 23 and 24, at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria island, Lagos.
The event, which will bring together major tourism stakeholders, including aviation professionals, travel consultants, tour operators, hoteliers, restaurateurs, curators and travel tech will discuss trends and solutions for growth of the tourism industry in Nigeria and Africa.
In partnership with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) and National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), the Nigeria Travel week is poised to change the narrative for domestic and inbound tourism in Nigeria.
According to the founder, Efetobo Awhana, this year’s edition will feature a tourism exhibition where stakeholders will showcase and offer amazing travel deals to public. Different states in Nigeria will provide snippets of their tourism offerings including hotels, museums and attractions, restaurants and cuisine. Visitors will also be able to book holidays on the spot or create a dream package for the future.
“Looking at the statistics of Nigeria to tourism, we have been far worse maybe because of our over dependence on our oils and it is time for us to begin to take advantage of our tourism. Last year alone, tourism contributed to 30 percent of the jobs provided around the world, and so how many of these jobs are provided in Nigeria. Also, last year 1.26 billion people moved around the world, in Africa only 53 million people moved around for tourism and how many of these travels involved Nigeria.”
Awhana said that the Travel Roundtable program includes four sessions on building a career in tourism; changing boundaries in African tourism; investment opportunities in Nigerian tourism and tech trends for the tourism industry. Some of the panelist, expected at the event include Museum collector, Prince Yemisi Shyllon of OYASAF, Desmond Majekodumi of LUFASI Park, Jon Howell of Aviadev Africa, Tana Forsuelo of Wavecrest College of Hospitality and Robin Campbell of Nigeria Field Society.
He added that the climax of Nigeria Travel Week is the Balearica Awards also known as the Nigeria Tourism Awards honouring outstanding tourism stakeholders over the last 12 months. The Balearica is named and designed after the black Crowned Crane, proposed to be the national bird of Nigeria around 1985, even though it is not very clear how and why it was changed to the eagle. Countries have national animals and plants as symbols for tourism promotion.
Representing the Director General of NDTC Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, the Zonal Coordinator of the agency in Lagos, Annette Ibe, noted that the NTDC is part of this initiative because of the role of tourism to the development of the nation’s GDP.
“If properly harnessed, it will reduce joblessness among young people. Every community/locality in this nation have potentials and when they are tapped, it creates avenue for growth. It is time to stop painting the nation in a negative light, as the apex body of tourism for the nation, the government will only be interested and channel resources to what citizens are interested in.”
While president of NANTA, Mr. Bernard Bankole stressed that it is important to look at the project beyond the founder and consider it a personal commitment for everyone to make domestic tourism thrive, then wealth will be created for every class of people in mostly the rural areas. “With our over 180 million population, if about 40 million people travel around the nation and spend 10, 000 naira each for the period, the nation would have made about at least 400 million naira and this will benefit the farmer in the villages, street sellers in localities, that way, we promote the vast cultural heritage we have.”