September 27, (THEWILL) – How prepared is Nigeria for this year world tourism day celebration amid covid-19 challenges? Will its random activities across the nation make the desired impact? Janefrances Chibuzor writes.
There are mixed feelings among tourism expert on challenges hindering Nigeria’s preparedness for this year’s World Tourism Day with the theme, ‘Inclusive Tourism for Growth’.
To enhance the growth of tourism globally, the United Nations set every September 27 aside as World Tourism Day. For almost two-years now that the covid pandemic has impacted on tourism, coping with stipulated protocols such as social distancing, use of nose masks among others have been herculean.
For the Project Manager, Lekki Conservation Centre, Adedamola Ogunsesan, tourism has the tendency of creating raising awareness for Nigerian’s cultural heritage.
He said, “for example when you’re in Osun Oshogbo groove you do not kill the monkey, you don’t kill the animals. According to him tourism also serves as a major means of protecting the womenhood in Nigeria and Africa in particular.
He advised the government to look beyond the celebration and consider making strategic development of tourists sites across Nigerian states top most priority.
“We need to improve security around those places, we need to create accessibility. We could use the occasion to develop our rural economy, improve livelihood, improve infrastructure, reduce unemployment and social vices in our rural communities.
Also, it is a strong means of reducing rural and urban migration because they provide the necessary platform for young people living in the hinterland to create alternative means of livelihood. “But because we have insecurity situation in the country, we need to improve the security, improve the accessibility, develop the capacity of our people. We do not need big hotels, sometimes when you go to France and Spain, it is the royal household that create one or two extra rooms within their particular household and host guests and someone coming from United Kingdom.
Speaking on the same development, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Hotels Management and Tourism Board, Ini Akpabio, stated: “My state Akwa Ibom in particular and of course Nigeria as a country has a lot to offer as regards tourism, both locally and internationally. ”
He said, “the theme of the year is inclusive tourism, that means inclusive growth and that means that everyone is involved. We are just recovering from the pandemic and that means everyone is very important in the sense that under this year theme we are looking at all human beings being taking into consideration and that is why we talk of inclusive growth. We want to see the social and economic benefits that tourism makes available to everybody. Do not forget tourism touches everyone unlike, may be, oil which a very select few may be beneficiaries of. Tourism is an activity that a lot of people has very economic tangible effect.
“We know that world tourism day normally celebrated in September 27 of every year and this year 2021 we will also in Nigeria mark that world tourism day. He recalled that the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has decided that Kebbi State would host world tourism day celebration in Nigeria and Kebbi, has been preparing to do a very good job through sports tourism and the famous Argungu fishing festival.
He said, “what Kebbi State has done is to map out several days of activities and then the finale would be the fishing festival on the September 27. We find out there are a lot of activities that would take place there, including international media briefings, there a mini Durban by Argungu Emirate Council, cultural matches and tour of its prominent tourist sites.
“We need to reposition ourselves, so that all of us in Nigeria will become beneficiaries of tourism as it touches each and every one economically, and inclusive growth as the theme implies is that growth will affect everyone, as we normally like to say tourism is life.
President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye pointed out, in her contribution, that “As usual private sector is not being carried along, they are going to celebrate world tourism day at Kebbi State”.
But she asked rhetorically, “Is that the best of destination in Nigeria to celebrate world tourism day. How well has Kebbi promoted tourism? What do they have? She asked out of curiosity”.
Continuing, she added, “I expected World Tourism Day should be celebrated in areas that are truly in their own little way doing this tourism we are talking about, assuming it is also a more free area where people can easily want to be part of it and I am not necessary saying Abuja. Ekiti is there, Calabar, Uyo and even Kwara but they choose Kebbi and that part I really do not understand. Private sector is not being carried along and really do not know what the plans of the government is and how far they have gone in their planning.
“The private sector has just decided to do their own celebration their own way, and like we have been doing it before. The governments are doing their own and we are doing our own and that is for the federal government. But it is not the same for all part of government, state governments are doing their own celebration and they are involving our members, state government like Ogun state. And we are fully involved from the beginning to the end. And they are planning big for world tourism day, and also some other states are also doing their own in their own ways and also have invited the private sector.
“We refused to be discouraged because as usual the federal government does not carry the private sector along with things like this. So we have chosen to do things in our own different ways, a lot of our members are coming up with events, there are old school event that period too, there are lectures, seminars, and there even event for children and for us we are very busy and there are going to be lot of events powered by travel and tourism association this year and it is going to be a good world tourism day celebration this year.”
For the founder, Lufasi Nature Park, Desmond Majekodunmi, “World tourism day is a great day to celebrate one of the fastest growing industries in the world that generally benefits the local communities. The industry has been badly hit by the over 1 year-long pandemic.
“Nigeria has tremendous potential with wonderful and very diverse cultural practices, interesting and beautiful eco systems and very friendly, happy people. Sadly the insecurity and eco system damage from climate change, deforestation and species extinction is greatly hampering our great potential in tourism.”