With devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the hospitality and tourism sector in the country, stakeholders in the Nigerian tourism industry have highlighted various ways to kick start the sub sector post COVID-19. The stakeholders, who spoke during the Naija Seven Wonders webinar in Lagos, with the theme ‘Where to visit in Nigeria: “Issues of Access and Security” noted that the country has a lot of tourism sites yet to be explored which can become a money spinner for the economy.
The webinar organised by Ikechi Uko, Organiser, AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market (AFTM), is meant to expose Nigerians to the many tourist site scattered across the country and also encourage the growth of domestic tourism in Nigeria. Speaking during the session, President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs Susan Akporiaye, urged Nigerians to explore domestic tourism. She noted that adequate construction of adequate infrastructural facilities is one of the fulcrums that will drive tourists to these sites. She stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people across the globe to embrace domestic tourism with the restriction of global travel adding that Nigerians need to start exploring its vast tourism sites.
Aporiaye listed tourist sites like the ‘Three Sisters Hill’, a name given to a natural body of mountains in Song LGA of Adamawa state. Although it is not clearly known how the mountains came about the title, people around the place really appreciate the natural wonder. The NANTA boss, added that one of the tourist attractions the country is blessed with is the Confluence of River Niger and Benue located in Lokoja and Mount Party in Kogi state which were quite exciting sites.
She further mentioned the Milliken Hill in Enugu State, a road with lush greens which meanders up a hill behind the Coal City center constructed during the colonial era by countless labourers assembled from neighbouring communities using pick and axe to cut through thick bush and hard stones. She stated that the Milliken Hill is a renowned tourist attraction in the beautiful city of Enugu, Enugu State. President, National Association of Tour Operators, Mrs Bilikisu Abdul, spoke also on the beauty of Zuma Rock, Osborne Lake and Usuma Dam in Abuja, as well as Farin Ruwa located in Nasarawa State. She stated these attractions are easily accessible to tourist that would want to explore the sites.
Also speaking at the webinar, former President, Association of Nigerian Journalist and Writers of Tourism (ANJET), Okorie Uguru, stated that there was need for the federal government to ensure the provision of adequate accommodation facilities to attract more tourists to Argungu international Fishing Festival. He said that for a festival with such rich cultural content, spanning decades, there ought to be adequate accommodation for both local and international tourists. Uguru said the federal government should work seriously with other hospitality stakeholders ahead of next edition of the festival to ensure adequate accommodation facilities around the venue. “With my years of experience in the tourism industry, I can categorically say that the Argungu International Fishing Festival is a standard product from Nigeria.
Commenting on the Ojukwu Bunker, War Museum in Enugu, he stated that these relics should be preserved and polished just like it has been done in Rwanda, where relics of the Hutu and Tutsis relics where preserved for tourist consumption. “The mind-blowing sites tourists can visit within the country are the Ojukwu Bunker, War Museum both in Umuahia, Seriki Abas Slave Museum and the Lush Sandy Coconut Beach in Badagry and more,” he said. Also, Wale Olapade of the Nigerian Tribune, said the last edition of Argungu festival pulled much crowd than the host town could cater for, urging the federal government to make necessary preparations ahead of the next edition in 2021. He suggested that small chalets could be constructed around the town of Argungu, while security is beefed up for tourists’ safety. “The sight of over 50,000 fishermen in the water at a time is great to behold at Argungu fishing festival,” he said.
Olapade urged Nigerians to undertake domestic tourism by visiting highly fascinating sites like the Ado-Awaye Hanging Lake in Oyo State, Bower’s Towers in Ibadan where one could view the four corners of Ibadan metropolis at a glance. “I will also advise tourists to visit Irefin Palace – one of the oldest palaces; Jos Museum with a very rich history of architecture and the Kiriji War Site in Osun.