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Robust Environment Good For Tourist Attraction

Omowunmi Kalejaiye, Zonal Head, Victoria Island Zone, FCMB,w planting a fruit tree at Plumbreed Schools, Sangotedo, during NCF’s tree planting exercise in schools in commemoration of 2021 World Environment Day

June 28, (THEWILL) – Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), is partnering public and private sector to create programmes and projects capable of driving eco-tourism in the country, Janefrances Chibuzor reports…

Eco-Tourism should be given topmost attention despite a range of challenges affecting its growth, Director General, NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano has advised. That will provide favourable time for inbound and outbound tourists to explore the mega fauna and flora of the country.

The advice was made at the 2021 World Environment Day (WED) with the theme “Ecosystem Restoration.” WED is celebrated annually on June 5 and is a United Nation’s initiative for encouraging worldwide protection of our environment.

To achieve this, NCF is adopting the platforms of National Parks Service (NPS), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, among other notable tourism agencies to attract eco-tourists.

However, Aminu-Kano described good and healthy environment as a necessity for tourists’ attraction, insisting that human beings respond in an inner spiritual way to that kind of tourism. He stressed the need for close partnership between people in the environmental and tourism community, saying Eco-tourism is really a major player in both sectors.

Nigeria’s tourism practitioners focused mostly on culture and other forms of tourism to the detriment of promoting eco-tourism, Aminu-Kano noted. “So most of our tourism infrastructure and agencies attended more on other parts of tourism facilities.”

He said: “We are making a lot of efforts and things are happening gradually. I think at NTDC level we have partnership with them both at their national  level and also at their zonal level in Lagos and together with them we are on the Board of  NPS  and we are trying to see how that can be stimulated and need to do something about enabling policies and frameworks in that regard because most national parks in terms of legislature they are gunmen,  they do not allow private sector participation within them but I know the law is changing and the Bureau of Public Enterprises have something in progress to bring third party and other players to work with NPS in a sort of commercialisation system.”

Continuing, he said: “And what the tourism people keep telling us when we approach them is that the basic infrastructure for nature base tourism is almost non-existence because most of our National Parks are in remote, inaccessible places and so access is a   major issue and our forests now are dens to insurgencies, bandits and whatever. That could be a major constraint to the immediate realisation of that but I think, anyway, that could be a genuine issue but there are other parks and areas which are not remote which are easily accessible and which are not vulnerable to those security challenges. That’s why the Lekki Conservation Centre is really demonstrating how you can marry tourism and environment and we get an average about a 100, 000 visitors normally  and of course because of COVID-19, numbers have completely  reduced and stopped but this is a sign that Nigerians really  want to go out naturally and so it is not because of our DNA and culture that we are not going out for nature base tourism. About 20 schools every single day of school run come to visit us here and it is because we are accessible, it is because there is infrastructure for people to come, it is because there is no security issue and because we have professional staff who are able to guide people and the people enjoy their visiting experienced when they come here.”

According to him, government is not taking the issue of environment with priority and the focus it deserves. “The Ministry of Environment at state and federal levels,” he said, “get the least resources and they are not at the table where major decisions are taken, so we need to address that. How can you reinforce when you do not have the capacity and the money.”

“And we have a consultant who is a tourism expert that is developing component and we have biodiversity experts that are working together to propel the proposal for this program jointly are NTDC and other organisation from World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). It is a very big step and I think we can pilot the Shaka and Yankari.”

It was a great day, indeed, as the event brought together huge numbers of leading environmental thinkers to commemorate the day with their international counterparts.

The 2021 WED experienced lined-up activities across the nation include tree planting in 20 schools, planting of 400 coconut seedlings, nature walk and clean up.

Sequentially, the event climaxes when NCF with the support of Dangote Group kicked its tree planting exercise at a school in Badore, Aja Lagos. While Omowunmi Kalejaiye, Zonal Head, Victoria Island Zone, FCMB was involved in planting fruit tree at Plumbreed Schools, Sangotedo.