Holiday makers the world over are irresistibly drawn to where you have the three S – sand, sun and sea. Sunbathing after a dip in the pellucid waters of the Mediterranean is a vacationer’s dream any day. Playing beach volley is as much attraction for adults as building sand castles is for youngsters. Add the poolside hotels and resorts and your idea of fun is as complete as packaged tour.
It was not for nothing the late Gilbert Trigano began his Club Med right from where there is sand, sun and sea aplenty – the Mediterranean. At the height of its popularity in post-war Europe, Club Med had become the main attraction for vacationers looking to living it up in many parts of the world with seaside hotels thrown into the bargain. For Trigano, the idea was for “ordinary people to discover the sea, breathe deeply and live healthily.”
You could say the same thing for Otunba Wanle Akinboboye founder of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort Ibeju Lekki, for vacationers to make the most of their leisure time in one of the most famous resort centres in Lagos. Yes, Ibeju Lekki is miles and miles away from the Mediterranean Sea but both have in common the central attraction for tourists and holiday makers: sand, sun and sea. Also, the exotic hotels built with local materials you see at La Campagne closely recalls those popular architectural resorts favoured by Club Med.
More than four decades in operation and aware of the advantage of staying ahead in a highly competitive industry, Akinboboye stepped up his game to promote and grow the tourism sector in Nigeria and the African continent. First is his devotion to build the continent through “Security, Entertainment and Tourism” (SET), without which nothing much can be achieved in one of the most lucrative sectors of the economy.
Ask vacationers at La Campagne Tropicana and you’ll be reminded of the “rich blend of Nigerian and African cultural motifs with contemporary opulence to curate a unique experience that everyone hungers and lives for.” Still, Akinboboye feels more can be done for the private sector and the Nigerian government to “take advantage of its comparative advantage to best the world in tourism.”
To achieve that, the head of one of the most recognised hospitality businesses in Nigeria recently made plans to unfold 52 tourism products into the tourism market during the formal public presentation of La Campagne Hills and Caves Resort in Itanla Ondo state.
“Our country Nigeria is blessed with great tourism attractions,” Akinboboye said. “Our focus is to restate that tourism is a market place which, like any other market, must have products. If you go to a market you have to define what you are selling, is it tomatoes or pepper or salt or yam or plantain? You must have a product.”
Continuing, he admitted that “the mistake we have made for so long is that we have focused on tourism without products. We have only been showcasing attractions. An attraction must be transformed to destination by surrounding that attraction with activities to make it viable. That is when that attraction becomes a tourist product. That is when it can be sold.”
To that end, Akinboboye intends to “create for the first year 52 products that will then be polished and standardized for the next two years. During the two years of standardization of these new products, we will start working on the next set…to be recreated in all the 774 local governments in Nigeria and the FCT…aimed at engaging young people with products to sell.”
That is not all. There is also the Diaspora Nigeria Economic Recovery Programme DNERP an extensive trans-border programme designed to revamp Nigeria’s ailing economy. In his words, “this is because we believe the much neglected tourism sector is the lowest hanging fruit that should be plucked to quickly reverse the prevailing downturn in the economy because revenue from tourism goes directly to the people, taxi drivers, tour guides, souvenir traders, hotel and so on, whose impact on tourism can be felt directly and almost immediately.”
Once it begins, DNERP will offer a two-pronged template of resuscitating the economy and holidaying – that is leisure and business.
DNERP has a potential for “attracting foreign inflow into the country, is a great empowerment opportunity for those working and earning income from the tourism industry. The beauty of this is that it is a win-win for Nigerians at home and Nigerians in the diaspora. While it offers Nigerians in diaspora and their friends an opportunity to contribute their own quota by visiting Nigeria for three days and two nights with a payment of $1000 apiece, which comes with a first class entertainment in form of dance, drama, poetry, authentic African music, cuisines and night clubbing.”
It goes without saying that “the money paid grows the GDP and locals also find an earning power. Apart from the leisure and entertainment package, there is also the business plan where Diaspora Nigerians who are interested in doing business at home can become distributors and part owners in companies and businesses with good rate of returns on investment.”