No Parking as the ‘Tour Nigeria’ Bus Takes Off 

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From the first week of August, Tour Nigeria Bus Tour will traverse the six geo-political zones of the country. The tour kicks off a series of monthly events to promote the best of Nigeria. Enjoy the captivating landscape, eat unfamiliar memorable dishes, visit interesting sightings and take part in festivals dotting the landscape from Lagos to Maiduguri, from Calabar to Sokoto and end the year with ‘’Countdown Nigeria’’ celebration. OMOLOLA ITAYEMI dreams a pleasurable experience

I t rained all through the week and the nerves of the commercial center of excellence was flooded. Palpable fear seized the hearts of travel writers covering the much-talked about launch of the Tour Nigeria bus tour, the flagship of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Domestic Tourism campaign.

 Such fear was however unfounded as all went well with the change of venue from Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC), Chevron, Lekki to the Lagos Motor Boat club, Awolowo road, Ikoyi despite the rain, traffic gridlock and flood. Director General, NTDC, Folorunsho Coker interacted freely with  journalists before the formal launch of ‘Tour Nigeria’ at its second press conference, the first being in Abuja last Friday. Housed in a white colonial-era building and boasting a view of the serene lagoon, the Lagos Motor Boat Club, Ikoyi Lagos has an unmistakable nautical theme- the wood-panelled bar with a large boat wheel as its centre-piece. Though it became the venue of choice due happenstance, it offered a serene environment, excellent service and good view of the city’s aquatic splendor, the perfect backdrop for a launch.

 Domestic Tourism has definitely taken a new turn with Coker at the helms of NTDC. Now, it has been made more compact but with richer content.

 Under the ‘CHIEF’ Plan, a tourism development roadmap with short, medium and long-term objectives has been rolled out. Basically, it consists of a 5-point action plan that aims to promote domestic tourism in Nigeria. The concept of ‘CHIEF’ gives citizens and stakeholders an opportunity to experience local tourist sites, attractions and events as an alternative to vacationing overseas. ‘CHIEF’ seeks to introduce global best practice for the tourism industry, encourage human capital and infrastructural development and protect Nigeria’s cultural heritage, while also pursuing funding for capital projects in the tourism sector.

 Coker at the interactive session itemized ‘CHIEF’ plan as an acronym – C for Corporate governance and regulations, H for Human capital Development, I for Infrastructural development, E for Events and marketing and F for Finance and investments. He said that the brand was an ambitious attempt at promoting tourism in Nigeria. “It will showcase the vibrant and friendly energies of Nigerians through different creative expressions. It will also leverage on our abundant power to celebrate our heritage, promote our natural and cultural tourism assets, destinations and people.”

 Part of his mandate as the DG of NTDC is to reverse the negative impressions in the minds of the public about Nigerian tourism and galvanize commercial tourism, promote Nigeria’s diverse multicultural heritage. He listed others to include evolving new channels of tourism markets whilst promoting Nigeria in a positive light and shaping a positive perception of its citizens. He added that the brand would leverage on the best of Nigeria.

“Nigerians are known to be intelligent and hardworking people. We are also known for our can-do and ‘never-say-never’ attitudes, which are complemented by our friendly and accommodating spirits. We are proudly the most populous black nation on earth; home to the second largest film industry on the globe whilst also being the fashion, technological and creative hub of Africa. In line with the corporation’s agenda to promote domestic and regional tourism, the ‘Tour Nigeria’ brand was conceived to drive domestic consumption of our tourism assets and products, it would also add to the nation’s GDP, create employment, and increase spending in the economy,” he said.

The ‘Tour Nigeria’ campaign is not a ‘one-off’ campaign but part of a more holistic promotional approach to develop community clusters and to help identify events and festivals, that when put together provide our visitors and citizens with authentic and memorable experiences. The key components to tourism are travel, accommodation and entertainment/hospitality. They would be explored with airlines, hotels, car hire services, tour operators and others to bring about affordable package tours to encourage Nigerians to tour Nigeria.

Amidst good ambience, tasty meals and choice drinks, Coker expressed pleasure that “Tour Nigeria initiative has come to fruition as a result of cooperation amongst a host of tourism players.

The thrust is to develop locals’ appreciation for the domestic tourism product and at the same time, improving their sense of pride in this beautiful country we inhabit.”