Local tour operators are pushing for more Nigerians to explore their own country.
These operators want to build up a tourism sector which has for long been overshadowed by the petroleum industry.
Ikogosi is a town in south-western Nigeria near where visitors come to dip their feet in a confluence created by the meeting of warm and cold springs that flow next to each other.
So we believe that in another five, ten years, the story of what we mean tourism to be in Nigeria, will be much different.
It’s one of the attractions that a new cohort of Nigerian tour operators like Social Prefect Tours and TVP Adventures are counting on to lure young, active professionals looking to explore their country.
‘‘I think that there is so much we can do when it comes to tourism, with nature, with our wildlife, we are just not harnessing it as much, but that story is beginning to change with what we are doing at TVP Adventures…
“… and what other colleagues in the industry are doing to get people, young people, old people, families, everybody can explore Nigeria and that is what we are trying to show people. So we believe that in another five, ten years, the story of what we mean tourism to be in Nigeria, will be much different”, said founder of TVP Adventures, Funmi Oyatogun.
Social media influencer Chiamaka Ntia is on a mission to reveal Nigeria’s hidden natural treasures. She started Social Prefect Tours in 2015 to make this a reality.
“You really can’t compare Nigeria to other popular African tourist destinations because tourism is not really a major focus for Nigeria, the difference is like really clear. Even our neighbours in Benin Republic are doing better in tourism as compared to Nigeria”, Ntia said.
Both tour operators are using digital media to woe customers as support from the government is not forth coming.
Popular African travel destinations like Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania enjoy government support and promotion.
Feigne Suinner is a French teacher based in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
“I think the cost of travelling abroad is quite high now and at the moment you do have companies like TVP ensuring that it is safe for you to travel, there are nice places for you to visit and the accommodation as well is equally good, I think a lot of people will jump on that bandwagon. There is nothing that is as interesting as knowing your own country and being proud of what you have,” Suinner said.
Nigeria is set to become the third most populous nation in the world by 2050 with around 400 million people. It emerged from its worst recession in a quarter of a century last year and launched a reform programme to rebuild its finances.
The most populous African nation was ranked 129 out of 136 economies analysed in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 ‘Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report’.