Thursday, December 17, 2009
The holiday season is fast approaching; it is closing in on us fast. I do not know about you, but to me it seems to be a little bit faster, it arrived early this year than the previous years. As the holiday season rush in on us, there are promos from various producers, manufacturers, providers of services in Nigeria and elsewhere, thanks to globalization. All hands are on deck with one intent, or goal, call it one objective, if you like, to lure and capture for keeps new and existing games (consumers).
Cocacola, PepsiCo, WallMart, BBC, CNN, Toyota, MTN, Globacom, Nestle, Unilever, Citibank, Hyundai, FIFA, Ford, British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, even our local airlines such as Chachangi, Sosoliso, Bellview, Aero Contractors, just to mention just a few. All over the globe, China, Japan Korea, Singapore, United States of America, Canada, Britain, Germany, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, France, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, Belgium, it is the same strategy; set a bait to lure the game (consumer), capture him and keep him for life, or for as long as possible.
The tourism industry welcomes this season because it marks the beginning of growth, or turn around in the fortunes of the tourism industry. What is more, airlines, welcome the season by rewarding their customers with unbelievable offers. Therefore, for tourists, this season is a good time to travel, the advantages are many, and most airlines are ready to spoil you silly with packages that are simply unbelievable, considering the global recession.
In this regard, local airlines are not resting on their oars; they are thinking, working and bringing up innovative solutions and promos to capture more customers for keeps. There is a keen competition for you the tourist/traveller. They are doing all they reasonably could in view of the downturn to capture and keep you as customer for life in their frequent flyer network radars.
For some time now Aero Contractors have been running an unbelievable promo where the usual fare is slashed by more than 50%, provided the traveller booked online in advance. This is simply mind blowing isn’t it? All the other local airlines have one package or the other to woo travellers.
On the international routes, Qatar Airways is offering great value for money for all its’ customers with excellent saving to key destinations around the world. Air France on the other hand is also offering highly competitive range of fairs; they even went a step further to embark on cabin innovation. The aim is to thrill you with unforgettable experience.
You see why I am encouraging you to travel by air frequently and enjoy the many benefits. Make the next journey whether local or international by air.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Madam Florence Nwachukwu, mother and grand mother from Nigeria boarded a Lagos bound Arik Airlines flight from Port Harcourt, South - South Nigeria on a bright Sunday morning. It was all drama throughout the one hour flight. The elegantly dressed old woman was apprehensive of heights, and what is more a height of some 33,000 feet above sea level is some height to deal with. Added to height, her being encased or enclosed in a capsule like looking flying objects that is sometimes at the mercies of the vagaries of turbulence. She was rightly scared.
During the one hour flight she was tethering between fright and outright panic. In the process she nearly threw up. She complained of shortness of breath and not hearing properly, all symptoms of first time flyers. To save the day, a kind hearted lady, a younger woman stepped forward and joined mama on her seat. The sympathetic woman spent her time by mama’s side during the course of the journey. And so it was a huge relief to madam Florence Nwachukwu when the flight touched down at the local wing of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, local wing (MMA 1).
Prior to her flight mama had experienced increased anxiety and sleepless nights at the thought of travelling by air. She had looked for every opportunity to postpone her journey, or at best travel by any other means except by air. Her fears and anxieties are justifiable, given the spate of missing aircrafts on our airways.
Dennis Bergkamp was one of the greatest football players of our time. This Dutsch soccer wizard was a European champion with his country The Netherlands (Holland), as well as a winner of the English Premiership with his club Arsenal. His football artistry was celebrated by all football lovers the world over. He scored goals from seemingly impossible angles, and created opportunities out of nothing. Such was his success and fame on the field of play that he became the toast of football fans around the globe and envy of fellow strikers, he became a nightmare to goalkeepers who knew that Bergkamp will surely score against them in 90 minutes of football action, it does not matter when, it could be at the tail end of proceedings, when they were about to heave a huge sigh of relief. Such was the fear, envy, love, admiration and praise heaped on this legend by all for his unusual out of planet earth talent and performance.
But there is something Bergkamp could not conquer. One thing that sets him eternally apart from other great soccer stars like, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Baggio, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kanu Nwankwo, Austine Jay Jay Okocha, Rivaldo, Eric Cantona, Carlos Valderama, Gabriel Batistuta, Ronaldo; to mention just a few. He could not conquer the fear of flying. Dennis Bergkamp has a morbid fear of flying. Unlike mama Nwachukwu who took steps to conquer her fear of flying, Dennis Bergkamp has not done so.
When on international engagement, either for country or club, he will rather travel by road or train or any other means than risk the fear of flying. He would set out early to keep such international engagements. He never ventured into travelling by air for any reason, be it business or recreation.
Florence Nwachukwu and Dennis Bergkamp are just 2 of the numerous people with means to travel by air, but chose not to do so. They would rather travel by road or any other means. While it is true that the financial cost of travelling by air may have prevented some, in reality it is the fear of flying that prevented others. Such ones can easily relate to you all the unfortunate plane crashes that have occurred in Nigeria and beyond in the last 15 years. Such ones concluded that travelling by air is riskier than travelling by other means, while in reality and, empirically the opposite is the case. Whereas the chances of being involved in an air crash are about one in 11 million, the chances of being killed in an automobile accident are one in 5,000. Statistically, you are far at greater risk during your car ride to the airport, than when flying, you are far at lesser risk when flying, than when driving an automobile, especially with the condition of our road networks in Nigeria. What is more, annually, over 50,000 lives are lost to road crashes worldwide, compared to the few numbers of lives lost during air disasters.
Fear of flying has contributed in a large measure to passenger turn out at our airports. In a nation of over 150 million populations less than 10% of the population travel by air, that is, only some 10 million people. Hence, the urgent need to step up our campaign to persuade and encourage more people to patronise our airlines. To re direct more travellers to the airports for travelling rather than by bus terminals and unsafe road networks. The more people travel by air the more a critical sector of the tourism industry, airlines will grow. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure that more and more Nigerians imbibe the culture of travelling by air. Stakeholders should embark on aggressive enlightenment campaign on the many benefits of travelling by air, so that by 2011, we can clock 30 million Nigerian frequent flyers. Sure when you travel by air aside safety you also save time, when you travel by air you equally save energy. You get more done within a limited time and reach more places in a short period of time. Make it your aim to make your next journey by air.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Sometimes early this year, a Nigerian, an official of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lokoja zone,north central Nigeria, Mr. Lizima Ngwam made us all proud. What did he do? On that day he received a distress call and quickly responded. On arriving the scene of the accident, he found a dead man, Mr. Obioma Innocent involved in the crash. But he found more than his corpse, he also found on the dead man, the sum of fifty five thousand one hundred and twenty dollars ($55,120) which he promptly returned to the family of the deceased.
Now you may begin to wonder and say, that is unlike Nigerian, and what is more totally strange for a Nigerian government officials and security personnel. But the fact is there are thousands, if not millions of government officials and security personnel who are honest, sympathetic and cherish their integrity. Although you hardly hear about them, yet they exist. There are so many of his type, be it in Arogbo, Akpata, Kano, Kaduna, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Akure, Brass, Oloibiri, Ibadan, Yenagoa Warri, Jos, Bauchi, you just name the place and they are there. We cherish and appreciate them, what is more they are like an oasis in a dry desert.
An honest deed like this enhances the image of of the country and projects us as a good trustworthy and hospitable people whom we truly are. What is more it endears our country to tourists as a safe tourism destination. Take it or leave it no tourist would venture into a country where his life and property cannot get a reasonable level of guaranty of safety. No tourist would come, no matter the preponderance of attractive tourism sites and promotions. Ask some nations in the Middle East, they know better. Hence the conduct of the people is crucial to the promotion of tourism. Tourists would most likely remember your kind deeds and courteous behaviour than all the facilities. It is on the basis of these points that Mr Lizima Ngwam’s deed is to be commended and encouraged.
Tourism will definitely not grow in a country where tourists and fun seekers feel insecure in the presence of security personnel. Tourism thrives and become a major foreign exchange earner when tourists read about kind deeds such as the one mentioned in the introduction of this article. It creates a feeling of stability and security.
So here is to salute Mr Lizima Ngwam and all others like him throughout the length and breadth of the country, for their honest and kind deeds that have contributed greatly in projecting our image as honest people. A friendly people, who are ready to accommodate and protect our tourists irrespective of race or religion. Furthermore, we implore all of us to emulate Mr. Lizima Ngwam. We equally urge the government to reward citizens with similar disposition. When we do as a people, Nigeria will witness exponential increase in the number of tourist, and the tourism industry will grow and our foreign earning from non oil revenue will increase.
Friday, November 6, 2009
We had to take our legs off the throttle to talk about the big one happening in Nigeria, the U17 World Cup and the immense benefit for tourism. From Lagos to Enugu, from Kano to Bauchi, the story is that of pure fun and satisfaction for those who travelled to the country, they had a swell time.
Today we are back to our unfinished business about drug and the growth of tourism; hopefully we intend to complete this piece. Let’s go.
Happily, the war against illicit drug/drug abuse is pretty intense in our country, Nigeria. This is also acknowledged by the rest of the international community. The agencies responsible are campaigning and creating awareness about the dangers of illicit drugs to our lives and property. They are also working very hard, bursting drug syndicates. These agencies and their agents are to be commended. Agency officials who have successfully carried out an operation should be rewarded; families of those who lost their lives on duty should be compensated without delay.
Knowing the threats that illicit drug pose to the future of their children, parents should take the lead in inculcating such dangers in the heart and minds of their children. Particularly vulnerable are children with creative abilities, these ones are sometimes deceived to believe that the use of illicit drugs enhance their creativity and performance. More often than not, the opposite is the case. Majek Fashek is one prime example in that category of unfortunate budding talents that drug has ruined. Our entertainment industry should desist from glorifying illicit drugs in their songs/videos/plays. When a deviant is identified, the relevant sections of the law should be applied. That does not in any way constitute stifling creative ability of our talented and dear entertainers; rather it serves to protect them from untimely death or demise of creativity.
We are equally using this medium to highlight the drawbacks, the devastating effects or threats that illicit drug could pose to our tourism industry if we allow it to take root. We all have the responsibility to prevent this trade from flourishing in our country. Hence all hands must be on deck to check this menace. Tourists gravitate like bees to flower, to a relatively peaceful and stable country, excessive violence scares them. When a potential tourist is constantly inundated with stories of drug related crimes in a country of interest, he becomes hesitant. He being a rational person may be forced to look elsewhere for another tourism destination. Furthermore, he may not stop at that, in fact he may discourage other family members and friends who intend to visit. Therefore, every hand must be on deck, we all must cooperate; the various government agencies must collaborate to effectively check this menace. When we do, crime will reduce and that automatically translate to less negative report about our country, then more tourists will come, thus expanding tourism as an alternative source of national income. This would also create more employment opportunities, thus translating to less poverty; more stability. Ultimately more funds would translate to improved standard of living.
Good people. Great nation!
Just because pictures tell the story, we include just a few shots to tell the story of the soccer fiesta going on in Nigeria.
We want to say thank you to FIFA for keeping faith in us, and for ignoring the antics of our detractors, by awarding the hosting right to us. We especially want to thank FIFA for ignoring our foibles and inability to get our house in order in a timely fashion. We thank them for giving us added time to sort ourselves out. While some sceptics lost faith, FIFA never did, while our detractors even suggested other countries to replace Nigeria, FIFA never bought those suggestions, instead they kept urging us to get it right, and it has all paid off handsomely.
At this point, congratulation is in order for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the country’s football governing body. The Presidency and the good people of Nigeria without whom, this tournament will not be. Despite all the challenges and distractions that ensued, we are hosting the world once again at last. Let someone pop the champagne and shout hurray! Especially should the residence of the hosting cities congratulate themselves, if nothing, this event is a veritable opportunity for the upgrade of some essential social infrastructures, for the benefit of the masses.
It is not only the football community that benefits from this event, but all of us. As a matter of fact, my constituency, tourism is the biggest gainer. And why not? All our guests will be hosted somewhere; do I hear you say, the hotels, and exotic resorts? Sure. And, after we have all shouted ourselves hoarse, and drain our emotions supporting our countries on the pitch, we definitely need somewhere to unwind, relax and refresh. The host nation has made adequate arrangement to cater to all our needs in this critical area. Opportunities abound for us to unwind, all the hosting cities have a vibrant night life to enable us catch some healthy fun.
In Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, there are numerous places to unwind. Night life in this city of aquatic splendour, which is also known as the centre of excellence is thrilling to night crawlers. Your night life may not be complete without a visit to the African Shrine in Ikeja. Neither will your stay complete without your exploring the long stretch of unpolluted beaches along the Lagos Epe corridor and Badagry.
Night life in Calabar and Abuja is quite vibrant; there are clubs and other fun spots that serve this very important purpose. There are good foods. Local delicacies and intercontinental dishes are there to make ones palate and visit pleasant and memorable. Trust Calabar, it has all that and even more in abundance. Abuja too is not left behind in this area, given its’ status as the capital of Nigeria, Abuja the centre of unity boasts of beautiful relaxation spots and hotels to cater to any taste. Other hosting cities such as Bauchi, Kaduna, and Kano in northern Nigeria have a lot to thrill our visitors. A stay in Bauchi will not be complete without a visit to the Yankari Games Reserve.
Enugu fans are something else, they are unique, they are special, and they are the best. Why? Enugu fans make you feel the world cup fever months before the event kicked off. No doubt, any visitor to Enugu will be treated to a memorable football festival that will not be forgotten in a hurry. They love soccer in this hosting city, and it is obvious in their interactions.
For those who will be in Ijebu Ode, a visit to the famous Olumo Rock, Abeokuta will further enrich your stay. The good people of Ijebu Ode, a city in Ogun state, south west Nigeria, are very friendly. A memorable tour awaits any tourist who does so. Lastly, whatever World Cup hosting city you may find yourself, the joy of the world cup will not be complete, unless you take time to sample our culture. Sample our foods, drinks, dance, language, and what have you. Welcome, welcome to my land.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
At this point, congratulation is in order for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the contry’s football governing body. The Presidency and the good people of Nigeria without whom, this tournament will not be. Despite all the challenges and distractions that ensued, we are hosting the world once again at last. Let someone pop the campagne and shout hurray! Especially should the residence of the host cities congratulate themselves, if nothing this event is a veritable opportunity for the upgrade of some essential social infrastructures, for the benefit of the masses.
It is not only the football community that benefits from this event, but all of us. As a matter of fact, my constituency, tourism is the biggest gainer. And why not? All our guests will be hosted somewhere; do I hear you say, the hotels, and exotic resorts? Sure. And, after we have all shouted ourselves hoarse, and drained our emotions supporting our countries on the pitch, we definitely need somewhere to unwind, relax and refresh. The host nation has made adequate arrangement to cater to all our needs in this critical area. Opportunities abound for us to unwind, all the hosting cities have a vibrant night life to enable us catch some healthy fun as well.
In Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, there are numerous places to unwind.
Night life in this city of aquatic splendour, which is also known as the centre of excellence is thrilling to night crawlers. Your night life may not be complete without a visit to the African Shrine in Ikeja. Neither will your stay complete without your exploring the long stretch of unpolluted beaches along the Lagos Epe corridor and Badagry.
Night life in Calabar and Abuja is quite vibrant; there are clubs and other fun spots that serve this very improtant purpose. There are good foods. Local delicacies and intercontinental dishes are there to make ones palate and visit pleasant and memorable. Trust Calabar, it has all that and even more in abundance. Abuja too is not left behing in this area, given it’s status as the capital of Nigeria, Abuja the centre of unity boasts of beautiful relaxation spots and hotels to cater to any taste. Other hosting cities such as Bauchi, Kaduna, and Kano in northern Nigeria have a lot to thrill our visitors. A stay in Bauchi is incomplete without a visit to the Yankari Games Reserve.
Enugu fans are something else, they are unique they are special, and they are the best. Why? Enugu fans make you feel the world cup fever months before the event kiicked off. No doubt, any visitor to Enugu will be treate to a memorable football festival that will not be forgotten in a hurry. They love soccer in this host city, and it is obvious in their interactions.
For those who will be in Ijebu Ode, a visit to the famous Olumo Rock, Abeokuta will further enrich their stay. The good people of Ijebu Ode, a city in Ogun state, south west Nigeria, are very friendly. A memorable tour awaits any tourist who does so. Lastly, whatever World cup host city you may find yourself, the joy of the world cup will not be complete, unless you take time to sample our culture. Sample our foods, drinks, dance, language, dress, and what have you. Welcome, welcome to my land.
I want to say thank you to Miss Lydia Oseghale, without whom today’s post may have failed.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Last week was one helluva week for me. I had so much to do and so little time to accomplish them. Hence I went off your radar. Let’s hope I will be consistent from now on. In view of the fact that Nigeria is warming up to host the world in the Under 17 World Cup, we shall have to rest our discussion on illicit drugs and focus on that event as it affect tourism. Let me welcome you to my land and its’ potentials for tourism.
In just a matter of days, Nigeria shall roll out the red carpet to welcome the world. In less than two days, we shall be playing host to our brothers from all the continents of the globe. Namely Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, North America, to mention just a few. We should congratulate ourselves as a people, you know, give ourselves a pat on the back for pulling this off, why? Despite all the negative publicity, via the news and entertainment media, District 9 inclusive, despite all the back biting by some naïve neighbours, who swallowed the bait of our detractors to pull us down. Nigeria is hosting the world.
We are not new to hosting high level, crowd pulling events, after all, we hosted the world in FESTAC 77 32 years a go where the world tasted firsthand, our hospitality. We equally did invite the world over for another taste of our generosity with football in 1999, tagged Nigeria 99. That is not all; we equally did so a few years a go at the CHOGHM events, a gathering of all commonwealth heads of states and governments in Nigeria. Not to mention the hosting of our African brothers and sisters to the All Africa Games tagged COJA 2003. Therefore, it is not strange to us; the world has been drinking steadily and regularly from our ever flowing fountain of hospitality.
As usual, the world is about to witness a unique way of hosting an event, we will do it the unique Nigerian way. The world is about to be treated to undiluted, unadulterated, pure fun. Welcome! Welcome to Nigeria, the home of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the land that gave birth to John Fashanu, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Akeem The Dream’ Olajuwon to mention just a few. Welcome, have fun!
We have all it takes to leave lasting, pleasant memories in your minds, we have all it takes to make you ask for more, the people, the spirit, the skills, the sites, you just name what is required by a good host for a memorable occasion, and we have got it. Let me flaunt some of the beautiful, breathtaking, heart thumping tourist sites and sceneries that we have got to show the world. Obudu Cattle Ranch, with its electric cable cars, and beautiful sceneries, Tinapa with its beautiful well laid out shopping malls, cinemas, spas and sceneries. Badagry with its’ historic relics of the slave trade era and a stretch of unpolluted beach, Argungu with its fishing festivals and Durba games, Lagos and its’ famous Eyo festivals, Yankari, with its’ game reserves, to mention but a few. Interestingly, these tourist sites are managed by capable hands in the business.
To be concluded.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Last time we had commenced the discussion on the negative effect of illicit drugs on tourism, today we shall continue in that line. But permit me for not keeping to my usual schedule, I went on official assignment to Ghana via the West Coast and could not really do much. The experience from that mission shall be shared with you all. Hopefully we will not have to experience this often. So let us continue with our discussion.
Already there have been cases of addicted train crews, bus/truck drivers, company managers, doctors, teachers and others in authority who have created dangerous situations through ‘going on a mission’ while on duty.
Not surprisingly, burglaries, mugging, and prostitution mushroom when drugs take root in a community thus making it unsafe, for all and most especially unattractive to the tourist. Other crimes are committed to facilitate drug trafficking. In order to keep drugs flowing smoothly from one area to another, the traffickers try to corrupt or intimidate officials. The effects of drug itself may lead to criminal activity. Family members maybe abused by chronic drug users like we often see on our TV sets.
Activities of drug dealers could make the neighbourhood unsafe for all after dark. Drug is one of the prime causes of crime and violence. Drugs remain one of the greatest generators of terrorism and criminal violence in the world. ‘Drugs are tearing apart our societies, spawning crime, spreading diseases such as AIDS, and killing our youth, and our future’ said Koffi Anan, a former Secretary General of the United Nations.
To be concluded.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Twenty six year old Natasha Ashley, eight months and half pregnant, is talking with a female friend on the sidewalk in a section of New York City called Little Italy in the United States. Suddenly a car jumps the curb, hitting both women and pinning Ashley’s left leg against a light post, severely crushing it from knee down. The friend’s leg is also broken. The police found the driver in a drugged stupor in his car, still clutching a hypodermic needle in his hand. He had overdosed while driving. Driving a car under the influence of marijuana or LSD can be every bit dangerous. Drug users make the streets unsafe for all of us including our tourists; imagine Natasha Ashley to be a tourist in our land. That ugly incidence would cast a question mark on our hospitality and our tourism potentials. It could scare away all of her friends who may be intending to visit our land.
A 17-year-old crack addict goes on a robbing spree to support his drug habit. By the time he is apprehended eight days later, he has killed five people and wounded six others. “All of the victims were innocent working people,” noted the chief of detectives.
The above are but a few of the many drug-related incidents that could scare away potential tourists from our country, thus denying us our fair share of the income that could be generated via tourism.
How safe would you feel on the highway knowing that a certain percentage of the other road users have taken a drug that impairs their judgement or reflexes? How safe would a tourist feel on such highways? Would a tourist venture out again to such countries after a near death experience? Also drug users are also 3 or 4 times more likely to be involved in accidents at work. Would you be calm when boarding a bus, plane, or train while recognising that those responsible for your safety may be under the influence of drugs? Would a tourist be calm in such unfortunate life threatening circumstances? Would he readily recommend our tourism destinations to family and friends back home?
To be concluded.
Monday, September 28, 2009
A typical example is the massive investment opportunities opened to all during the construction of the Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort and the Tinapa projects, all in Cross Rivers State, South South geopolitical region of Nigeria. These projects generated massive employment opportunities for various levels of professionals and artisans. The impact was well felt even during the construction stage.
All these activities, whether to create a new tourism facility or upgrade existing ones translate to more employment opportunities, expanding the space for employment and increasing standard of living, thus reducing unemployment and by extension idleness, despair and crime. Hence, making our climes safe for tourists and fun seekers.
Mushrooming from tourism industry are a whole lot of support service providers who are capable of creating employment for countless thousands, and generating income to improve standard of living. Such support services providers include but not limited to the following, travel/tour companies, tour guides, catering services, security companies, car hire services, to mention but a few.
When intending tourists hear that we are investing massively and upgrading our infrastructures and tourism sites, like it is happening in Kenya, Egypt, South Africa and the Gambia despite the global economic slow down, they will visit to feel these facilities. So facilities drive tourists to destinations.
Therefore opportunities abound for all of us, young and old male or female. Therefore all hands must be on deck to ensure that we widen the space, build more hotels, more resorts, more parks, enhance more historical sites across the country. More importantly, enact favorable legislation to enable private capital to take the lead in driving the expansion of tourism. Encourage indigenous investors to take advantage so that profit repatriation could be minimized to the barest minimum.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Opportunities abound for all to generate wealth in the tourism industry. Whether we are bourgeoisie/capitalists or proletariat. Whether we are rich or poor, whether we are young or old, male or female. Whether we are rural dwellers or city dwellers, literate or illiterate it does not matter, opportunity does not discriminate, it is all embracing, all encompassing. We all stand a good chance to make wealth beyond our imagination from tourism.
Let us consider the various opportunities that the promotion of tourism could unlock for our collective benefits.
The world over, promotion of tourism is closely linked with massive construction of social/national infrastructures. The construction of such infrastructures requires the employment/engagement of skilled professionals as well as artisans. Hence, a nation that is determined to diversify the source of her national income from petro dollar and tap from the tourism dollar will no doubt embark on massive construction/maintenance of existing or new social infrastructures, such as hotel facilities, resorts, parks, and event centers. This will generate employment opportunities for skilled professionals such as civil engineers, quantity surveyors, architects, plumbers, to name but a few.
To be concluded.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
When a tourist visits he wants to be able to move around without too many hindrances, so that he could explore those beautiful tourism sites that we have prepared for his pleasure. But when a journey of twenty minutes turns to two or three hours, as is being witnessed on a daily basis on the aforementioned cities, then it left little or nothing to be desired by tourists and travelers. Incidentally it is situations like this that discourage tourists and fun seekers, it is what also discourage or stunt the growth of tourism. And it further keeps us away from our goal of diversifying our economy by selling our atmosphere, which is what tourism business is all about.
So here is a call to all relevant government agencies saddled with the responsibility of maintaining our roads and drainage system if there is any, to do so without delay. Perhaps, they could put place stopgap measures in the interim to tackle the problem of traffic congestion occasioned by potholes and failed portions of the road. While in the long run, the continuous maintenance of existing roads and the expansion of some vital roads, and of course the construction of link roads should commence without further delay.
Less traffic congestion on our roads, means more tourists, more tourists means more patronage of our tourism sites, more funds for the state and more employment opportunities created via tourism. More employment opportunities, less poverty, less poverty translate to less crime, less crime more tourists. It’s a circle; get the basics right and watch the dramatic increase in the number of tourists.
Friday, September 18, 2009
The rains are here again, it is its’ season. That season when we all heave a sigh of relief from the scorching heat. Whether there is electricity supply form Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) or not, we now enjoy some measure of comfort, especially at night. At least for some months now that is what we all are experiencing, even in the very hot parts of the country; namely Kano, Yola, Sokoto and Maiduguri.
But as much as we desired, hoped and welcomed the rains, and even celebrated it’s inception, it also come with its’ own challenges. Challenges that if not managed well could erode some of the gains we have made in tourism.
The challenge of unending traffic on our roads, a situation that could turn a twenty minutes drive to two hours, a situation that often left man and machine constantly stressed to the limit and totally exhausted is inimical to the growth of tourism. The vexing trend of traffic gridlocks is virtually on every road in Port Harcourt, Benin City, Kano, Onitsha, Abuja, Jos and especially, Lagos. In Lagos, from Badagry to Epe, from Ikorodu to Apapa, from Apapa to Oshodi, the story is not different, name it, it is the same.
Though some may blame the situation on the rains, but I beg to differ. I apportion some of the blame to all of us, for not in some case clearing our drainages, and for dumping refuse indiscriminately. On the other hand, government should bear the brunt for the pool of river and sorry sight that our high ways and access roads have become anytime there is rainfall. A thinking and proactive government will have taken necessary steps to minimize the incidences of unending traffic occasioned by rainfall, given the cost in man-hour loss.
To be concluded.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Furthermore, a poorly supervised sector also became a breeding ground for criminals. The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC), Mr. Olusegun Runsewe revealed that about 70% of stolen vehicles are kept in hotels around the country, confirmed this truth. It is common knowledge that all over the world, some heinous crimes are plotted and hatched from the confines of unregistered and unregulated hotels. Crimes ranging from armed robbery, fraud, kidnapping assassinations is perpetrated from such unholy venues. And the perpetrators of such crimes vanish into thin air without any trace or any clue. Therefore by this action on the part of the supervisory agency, security to lives and property will be enhanced.
In addition, a poorly regulated tourism sector also led to earning for itself a poor reputation from the public and would be consumer of its’ products. The poor perception of the general public, where hotels are viewed not as a place to unwind away from home, but as a place where infidelity is perpetrated given the ubiquitous presence of prostitutes and pimps does not help growth. Thus necessitating supervision and regulation.
Hence, when the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC) wielded the big stick, I was relieved of these concerns that have being weighing on my mind. This sanitation exercise will no doubt go a long way to boost the growth and development of the tourism sector of our economy. It will further increase our rating in the world tourism map as a choice destination for tourists, a destination to be reckoned with. Therefore all of us must support and encourage this action of the NTDC.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Hitherto, just anyone could convert any buildings to hotels, in just any corner or space available, whether such territories are earmarked for such or not. This poor practice created a lot of problems for the growth and development of the hotel business in the country. It gave rise to unorganized growth of the sector, hampering standardization efforts of the agency; naturally without standardization growth becomes difficult in the face of competition from standardized economies. It also made the agency’s supervisory role tedious.
When adequate supervision is lacking, it naturally lead to poor service delivery, poor service delivery translate to dissatisfied customers. A dissatisfied customer may not bother to call back again and that means a loss to the sector, and a slowing down of growth and development. Poor service delivery reflects poorly on our global ratings and negatively affects our earning from the international tourists market.
To be concluded.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Where were you, what were you doing on that day, can you recall? I still remember vividly, what I was doing before the incidence that was to change the face of international relations and tourism occurred. I was barely 2 weeks old in my new place of employment, a media house in Lagos, Minaj Broadcast International (MBI). On that day the head news had asked me to help monitor news for the News Department, so I was snooping for news when CNN flashed the breaking news, together with footages of events as they unfolded in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
I am sure; the events of 9/11 will be indelibly inscribed on the minds and hearts of millions, if not billions of the earth’s inhabitants. Todd Beamer and friend’s heroic resistance of the fourth plane from heading to it’s target in Washington DC will not be forgotten in a hurry. We equally remember the families of those fire fighters who lost their lives while trying to save that of others. Fire fighters like James Amato a father of 4 children, and a captain in the New York Fire Department, he was a courageous man. George DiPascuale also paid with his life, as he tried to save others. Infact, he was on the 10th floor of the south tower when it collapsed. These are just 2 of the hundreds of fire fighters, policemen and emergency workers who lost their lives as they valiantly tried to rescue people.
It has been 8 years since, that nerve racking, heart-rending incidence occurred. Since then our lives have never been the same, neither is the way we relate, nor do business, especially traveling and tourism. No doubt all sectors of the global economy was affected but the one that received the most bashing, the most blows and almost brought to its knees was the traveling and tourism industry. Since the 9/11 incidence traveling has not been the same experience. Some major airlines were yet to recover from the loss occasioned by that incidence, just as we have not been able to shake the shock off completely. Civilization is yet to recover from the shock of 9/11, if nothing it has exposed the vulnerability of all of us. That wealth and superstructures that our forebears toiled to build can be destroyed within a twinkle of an eye by a few disgruntled or misguided youths. But on the positive side the 9/11 tragedies brought out in all of us, Americans and non-Americans alike better qualities, namely self-sacrifice, compassion, endurance, and unselfishness.
Each time I as well as others, millions at that, board a flight, be it local, within Nigeria or international flights, we always have at the back of our minds the possibility that one or a few of us can hijack the plane and run us all into a major facility and end our lives there. I have joined the club of fearful fliers.
But all tourists are working hard to put the incidence behind them, gradually we are coming out of our shells, yes the statistics indicated so. They show that tourism will not let such incidences change the way that traveling business is done.
No doubt air safety consciousness have increased since the 9/11 incidence, that indeed is comforting to nervous travelers (tourists) and the tourism industry, but can we prevent a repeat of 9/11? That is the question that is going through my mind as we remember this dark day in human history.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Therefore a quality that is critical from the ongoing discussion is friendliness; little could be achieved without it. A friendly smile/ disposition would go a long way to endear our country as a favorite tourism destination. A friendly attitude as against a combative attitude, on the part of government personnel/security officers will enable them to be kind to tourists and their guides. Such disposition will enable all to protect the interest of tourists and not to prey on them, by pilfering, defrauding or outright stealing/kidnapping.
When a security personnel realize that part of his take home (salary) is probably from income generated by the nation through tourism, he would do all he could to protect such tourists by preventing harm from befallen them. And when most Nigerians realize that by being nice and kind to tourists they are actually contributing toward the promotion of Nigeria’s’ tourism industry as a choice destination, and by extension our revenue base, they will improve in their attitude.
As I write there are countries with fantastic landscapes and advanced infrastructure that could support the boom of tourism. There are countries with tourism sites that could rival the best in any part of the world. But these nations are rarely viewed as tourists’ destinations, why? Because of the hostile nature of their citizens towards tourists/visitors. The point is clear, no tourist will visit a hostile, short-tempered people, and neither will a tourist visit a crisis prone region. Tourists will rather visit a country or region with fewer infrastructures, but with friendly, honest, and easy going people, than one with all the infrastructures and bombs and hand grenades exploding every other time.
Conclusively, all of us young and old, man and woman rich and powerful and humble, we all need to put on our best behavior at all times, especially when our dear tourists are around. When we do, our tourists will not hesitate to recommend us to family friends and colleagues. What is more, they will most likely call back when they have the opportunity to do so. With this we all are directly or indirectly contributing to the growth and development of our tourism industry. Bottom line is that it will drive our revenue base up and free us from the vice like grip of petro - dollar (oil).
Monday, September 7, 2009
While government on its’ part is putting all necessary policies and structures in place, from regulatory frame works to a virile supervisory agency and the development of critical infrastructures. The first thing you and I could do to engender tourism is to be of good behavior. Nothing makes lasting impression on the hearts and minds of tourists than the way and manner the citizens of their host country treated them.
Therefore a friendly and hospitable demeanor is essential to the success of the industry in Nigeria a friendly and helpful attitude on the part of citizens of the host country will make a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of the tourists, in most cases making them to recommend their host country to intending tourists’ (family, friends, colleague and neighbors), who may want to visit. Of course when next they want to proceed on vacation such country readily comes to mind. Therefore our conduct towards tourists is very crucial to the survival of tourism as a business.
If the government and corporate entities spend so much to establish and promote our potentials in tourism business, and the citizenry does not treat tourists kindly, worse still, out rightly being hostile, all the efforts will come to naught.
Imagine tourists being caught in a cross fire between warring Area Boys in Lagos and the Police, or imagine tourists caught in the middle of a sectarian crisis. Hardly will you expect such a tourist to have any favorable experience to recall or relate back home. Imagine a tourist that was duped or defrauded in the course of his vacation in our country, hardly will such recommend us as favorable tourism destination to family and friends back home. Worst of all, imagine when a tourist is kidnapped, that could cause a major setback to the tourism industry. That is why it is saddening, disheartening to see Policemen who are the nearest personnel of government established for the purpose of protecting lives and property extorting money from tourists and their guides/drivers without any qualms. So we all must do our very best to protect these visitors who have left family and friends behind to spend time and resources in our country. We must be of good behavior.
To be concluded.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Listen to the following statistics regarding tourism. According to World Tourism Organization (WTO) forecast, international tourist arrival will climb from the present 625 million a year to over 1.6 billion by the year 2020, now does that ring a bell, vision 202020? These tourists are expected to spend over 2 trillion US dollars, making tourism the world’s leading industry.
Today tourism is important to the economy of over 125 countries, from Europe to the Americas and of course Africa. Tourism can alleviate poverty through the creation of small and medium size tourism ventures. As it creates new jobs it simultaneously raises environmental, cultural as well as social awareness. Now listen to this also, tourism could most effectively reduce unemployment and lift the standard of living in developing homes, Nigeria inclusive.
How do we as a nation benefit from the above statistics about tourism business? What can the government at all levels do to ensure that Nigeria takes her rightful place in tourism business?
Government at all levels could do a lot to ensure that we reap bountifully from this windfall from tourism. Government at all levels must necessarily create the enabling environment for tourism industry to thrive. Government must put sound policy framework in place, a policy that will encourage an unprecedented growth of the tourism industry in Nigeria. This means that government need to double its; effort inj the provision of critical infrastructures (power, road networks, coastal/waterways, airports/airfields).
Government at all levels should embark on massive awareness campaign about the numerous benefits/opportunities in the tourism industry. The hordes of security agencies on every stretch flagging down vehicles are inimical to the growth of tourism. Therefore a re-orientation of our security agencies is urgent. The roads are to facilitate tourism and not to serve as revenue points. Tourism business and the movement of persons and goods could be crippled by the overbearing security presence on the roads.
Government at all levels should empower or encourage indigenous investors through incentives such as tax breaks to enable them invest in tourism by embarking on massive construction of resorts, hotels, parks and other infrastructures critical to the development of tourism. This action on the part of government will minimize profit repatriation by foreign investors as is being witnessed in the case of the telecom and oil and gas industries. Government at all levels should provide security to lives and property and reduce the feeling of insecurity. Government should enact necessary legislations to give teeth to the growth of the industry and empower the supervisory agency to be more efficient.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Welcome to Tourist’ Paradise. A blog where all issues regarding tourism/traveling are discussed. On this blog, we shall be opening Nigeria and by extension Africa to the world. We shall tell our own story as regards tourism, for we realize that no outsider can tell it better. In addition, this blog has, as it’s objective opening up the enormous but untapped tourism potentials of Nigeria and Africa to the world. From Yola to Obudu, from Badagry to Argungu, from Yankari to Oshogbo, from Ikogosi to Oloibiri, from Olumo to Idanre, Nigeria beckons to all to come taste her hospitality. Come see the stunnuning sceneries and gorgeous views of the most populous black nation on earth. Explore Nigeria; explore Africa.
Welcome to my world, the world of tourism. On this blog I shall be guiding you on a tour of breathtaking destinations across the world at large and Nigeria in particular. I shall be unveiling the various opportunities that abound in the tourism business. I shall show you how you as an individual can benefit from it. Furthermore, I shall show you the dos and don’ts of the business. What should governments do to attract investors and thereafter tourists to their tourism sites? What should you and I do to enjoy our vacations/holidays? What should we avoid to have memorable holidays and vacations?
Furthermore, this blog will serve as your authoritative tour guide; it will help all intending tourists to make informed choices about the various tourists’ destinations spread around Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. I shall discuss various issues pertaining to tourism; developments that will affect tourism. I shall also serve you a regular menu of various African cultures. So fasten your seat belts as we prepare to take off on a voyage of pleasant discoveries, a journey that will make you look back with fond memories in the end.
Posted by Edwards Ajiboye (Arogbowei)