FeaturesWonders Of Nigeria Expo 10th Edition: Ambience For Promoting Domestic Tourism

Wonders Of Nigeria Expo 10th Edition: Ambience For Promoting Domestic Tourism

April 28, (THEWILL)- Africa Travels Market recently organised the 10th edition of its Wonders of Nigeria Expo focusing on the promotion of domestic tourism assets, cultural heritage, festivities and monuments.

The conference attracted participants from different segments of the tourism industry, including tour operators, and digital photographers amongst others. During the event, panellists shared opinions, thoughts and suggestions that will drive sustainable growth through tourism facilities embedded across the states.

Compere of the day, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Enemchukwu, the Wonders of Nigeria Expo promoter, Ikechi Uko and the Director-General, Ekiti State Bureau of Tourism, Barrister Wale Ojo-Lanre were on hand to declare the event open.

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The expo activities range from engagement, interactive, and brainstorming b2b among others. Also, it identified numerous benefits for growing Nigeria’s domestic tourism.

The event provided an opportunity to market ‘Akwaaba’, a sister company to Wonders of Nigeria Expo and a body designed to unify Africa.

The Keynote speaker was the Minister of Tourism, Ms. Lola Ade John, who spoke on the way forward towards the preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage, as well as advised Nigerians to preserve the nation’s historical and cultural assets for the benefit of future generations.

“As we celebrate the 10th edition of this expo, let us not only marvel at the wonders before us but also reflect on the importance of preserving and protecting them for future generations.

“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.

“We must engage our local communities and train them on basic tourism skills, entrepreneurship, hospitality, cleanliness as well as love and respect for cultural differences.

“This approach embodies what I call the ‘Doctrine According to Tourism.’ It will empower and encourage our people to contribute to the country’s revenue diversity plan as the President emphasises in his Renewed Hope Agenda,” she said.

The Minister urged Nigerians on the need to promote responsible tourism by dwelling more on telling positive stories of Nigeria to attract tourists.

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

Speaking, Mr. Uko said photography and storytelling were the necessary tools needed to change the narratives in the tourism space.

Uko urged tourism operators to engage these tools in projecting the nation’s tourism endowments to the world to attract tourists.

He advised the operators to ensure photographs used for marketing are properly authenticated.

He also encouraged them to relay personal experiences at these sites through their social media pages and every avenue considered as storytelling.

“Photography and storytelling are the necessary tools needed to change the narratives in the tourism space, but ensure you authenticate pictures before using them for tourism promotion,” he said.

Dayo Adedayo, a British-trained Nigerian documentary photographer, said this was for the purpose of enlightenment and revenue generation.

He said Nigeria could also be making huge revenue just like the United Kingdom gets from tourists who visit Buckingham Palace.

He noted that the Aso Rock, being the seat of power in Nigeria with beautiful structures, attractive landscape and greenery vegetation in its surroundings, could be a good source of revenue for the nation.

“It is time to learn from other nations. The story of Buckingham Palace comes to my mind.

“According to the United Kingdom Independent Newspaper of Saturday, May 6, 2023, the Royal family, in its annual report of 2019-2020, a record of 3,285,000 people visited the official residences, generating approximately £49,859,000.

“Gift shop sales of the royal collection made £19,983,646 in a single year, making its total income of the year to be £71,526,000.

“While the average annual cost for UK taxpayers in royal upkeep comes to around £500 million in a year, Brand Finance estimates that the monarchy’s brand contributes £2.5 billion to the British economy in the same time frame.

“Nigeria can also generate as much huge revenue when we allow other nations and citizens to visit the Aso Rock while they pay for sightseeing,” he said.

Adedayo said imagery remains a powerful tool to promote tourism in Nigeria as it evolves emotions, sparks curiosity and creates the desire to experience a destination first-hand.

He said imagery could be utilised effectively in tourism promotion through photographs of stunning landscapes, cultural experiences, landmark attractions, hospitality and accommodation, seasonal imagery, local wildlife and nature.

The documentary photographer, who exhibited 1,000 photographs of tourism sites across the nation, shared personal horrible experiences trying to take certain pictures for tourism promotion in Nigeria.

Consequently, Uko stated that the event location, the National Museum in Onikan, Lagos, was a deliberate attempt to change the guests’ narrative and for them to see the important role the Museum Centre plays in promoting Nigeria’s cultural heritage and monuments.

Earlier, Nneka Isaac-Moses, Managing Director, Goge Africa, urged the Federal Government to invest in training and capacity-building for practitioners in the industry.

She said the government must also work on the provision of accommodation facilities at identified tourism sites within the country for tourists’ comfort.

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 Nigerian tour operators toward grooming the industry.

According to Udom, these tour operators, over the years, have been able to unravel new tourism sites and promote and drive traffic to such sites.

She, however, called on the Federal Government to work directly with tour operators and ensure the provision of grants for them to be able to do more.

She said the needed infrastructures should also be provided at all tourism and heritage sites to make marketing of such sites easier.

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

Makanjuola advised the Federal Government to work on putting in place good roads.

”Security personnel should also be sensitised on the business of tourism. Government needs to help us. 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.”

The event featured a photo exhibition of over 1,000 tourist sites cutting across the 36 states of the nation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the ‘Travellers Award’ to some individuals who have contributed toward the promotion of tourism sites in the country.

Ekiti won the first Most Active Tourism State of the year 2023 in Nigeria followed by Abia, Enugu, Edo and Cross River states, while Gov. Eno Umo emerged as the 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 the best airline in 2023, Mrs. Ime Udom won the ‘Tourism Promoter of the Year’ award while Ekiti and Akwa Ibom states won the ‘Most Sought-after’.

Favour Udom emerged the ‘Tourism Photographer of the Year’ and Funke Ogunkoya-Futi bagged the ‘Travel Communicator of the Year’ award.

Flyzone Tourism, amongst other tour operators who were trained in tourism promotion, was inducted into the ‘Tourism 100 Club’.

About the Author

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Janefrances Ebere Chibuzor is a Tourism Writer at THEWILL

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Janefrances Chibuzor, THEWILLhttps://thewillnews.com
Janefrances Ebere Chibuzor is a Tourism Writer at THEWILL

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