In what can be termed as a major boost for Nigerian tourism, Nigerian Travel Week debuts this November with multi-day events that aims to drive the Nigeria tourism sector and promote Nigeria. OMOLOLA ITAYEMI writes
– Targets over 20million domestic travellers in 5 years
The over one week event, billed to hold between November 20 and 29, including pre and post event hosted-buyers familiarisation tours is aimed at changing the negative narrative that trails Nigeria as a country adversely affecting its tourism potentials. There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria Travel Week (NTW) will by no small means change the ‘Nigerian’ perception that travel is luxury, promote domestic tourism in Nigeria and change the media and general narrative of Nigeria as a “Boko Haram and Corruption Country” to a rich ecotourism and cultural tourism destination in the next five years.
NTW could not have come at a better time especially with the advocacy for proper balance in the ‘Africans travelling Africa’ campaign on the continent. Thanks to the effort of the trio companies; Avantgarde Tours Limited, Afro Tourism West Africa Limited and Rewards Travels and Tours Limited, the Nigerian public will benefit from a befitting end of year event that serves to promote Nigeria.
Speaking during the unveiling of the new travel project, the Managing Director of Avantgarde Tours Limited, Efetobo Awhana, who is also the CEO of NTW, disclosed that it is aimed at promoting domestic tourism by making Nigerians see the need to patronise the country’s tourism as it targets 20% of Nigerians exploring the country in the next five years with over 20 million direct and indirect jobs created. According to him, NTW ‘‘is a multi – day tourism event platform that aims to drive the Nigeria tourism sector by bringing together buyers, consumers, travel technologies, tourism/travel service providers and the media to network, review and discuss the development of tourism in Nigeria.’’
The goals as revealed by him include to achieve 20% of Nigerians travelling Nigeria in five years and to create 2,000,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2022 as it impresses it on the Nigerian public that travel increases creativity, boosts health, improves satisfaction and happiness; Nigeria as a destination worth first consideration for leisure and short breaks and that travelling Nigeria and Africa helps fight poverty in Nigeria and on the African continent even as it shows the international community that Nigeria is endowed with unique tourism attractions and numerous investment opportunities.
Towards this end, the project, which he has tagged as a massive campaign to get Nigerians to travel Nigeria, is expected to attract about 5, 000 people over the duration with youths and adult as the target audience, will among others generate buzz and discussions on domestic tourism; get Nigeria trending for the right reasons over 10 days; publicise destinations around Nigeria; help in data collation of travellers and tourism statistics in Nigeria and create awareness of the benefits of travel in-country and on the continent.
Awhana also disclosed that the activities slated for the platform, which include media (Radio and TV) tour, familiarisation tours, travel roundtable, tourism Cup (Golf), village square, travel hangout and Nigeria tourism awards, would hold at different locations, such as: Wheatbaker Hotel, Freedom Park, Ikoyi Club, Lekki Leisure Lake and Federal Palace Hotel.
He urged corporate bodies and government ministries, departments and agencies to take advantage of this history making platform to expose their products and services to the international audience, beside Nigerians as over 50 international delegates from 24 countries have already signed up as hosted buyers.
– Unveils nominees of its Balearica Awards
Awhana explained that the choice of Balearica, which is the name of the bird on the Nigeria’s Coat of Arms, is symbolic in a sense that it was used for the promotion of tourism. The choice of the tag, he noted, was an indication of the overall mandate and focus of the NTW.
The awards comes in 24 categories. The process requires members of the public to vote while the votes will be vetted by a private auditing firm.
But four of the categories are not to be voted for as they will be selected by the organisers based on the contributions made by the people so honoured. In this category are Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, for Life Time Achievement; Bankole Bernard, president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, as Travel Personality of the Year; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, for Royal Support for Tourism, while those nominated for Tourism Governor are governors of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos , Ondo and Bauchi states.
On the list for Best Tourism Attraction of the Year are the Idanre Hills, Nike Art Gallery, Calabar Carnival, Kajuru Castle Kaduna, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library and Kano Durbar, while for Best Airline (domestic) are Peace Air, Medview and Dana.
Candidates for the best tour operators are Jemi-Alade Tours, Travelnextdoor, Motley Travels, SJ Tours, Obom Tourism, Tour2Nigeria and Remlords Tours.