Nigeria Is Safe For Tourism, Says NATOP Boss
Despite the challenge of insurgency in the northeastern region, Nigeria is safe for tourists who may desire to experience the country that is home to the largest number of black population in the world.
President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), Nkereuwem Onung made this statement during a tour of Lagos organised recently by NATOP for tour operators and buyers from South Africa, and travel journalists.
The tour was facilitated to expose stakeholders in South African tourism to places of attraction in Lagos.
Speaking to journalists, Onung decried a situation whereby countries with worse security challenge than Nigeria continue to attract tourists from everywhere in spite of their domestic challenge, but Nigeria attracts less because of poor marketing.
He attributed the lackluster promotion of tourism destinations in Nigeria to government’s indifference to tourism growth, noting that South Africa, which also has domestic challenge, promote their destination more effectively, the reason “Nigeria is their biggest market” today.
Tourist arrivals from Nigeria in 2013 grew by 15.4 percent to 84589, the South Africa tourism authority said.
NATOP boss said, Nigerian government needs to realise that oil is exhaustible, but tourism offers lasting dividends both for the government and the operators.
“And we have a lot to give to the world in term of tourism, we just need to be much more organised,” he said.
He advised the government to borrow leaf from South Africa by focusing on two key areas of growing tourism sector: “Appoint those who know and are passionate about tourism to manage the industry, then strengthen the institutions that support tourism growth.”
He also advised state governments to identify tourism assets within their domain, develop and promote it.
Speaking in appreciation of the city tour, the Regional Director of South African Tourism, Evelyn Mahlaba expressed satisfaction at the warmth of Lagos and its people.
“What I am taking away from here is the fact the people are warm, and loud too.”
NAPTOP thanked the South African delegates for participating in the tour.
“Most of them come to Lagos, but only stayed on the Island, I am sure they have been amazed today with what they have seen,” said NATOP boss.
Few of the places visited during the tour were government secretariat at Alahusa, Alade Market in Allen Avenue, Nike Art Gallery at Lekki, Idumota Market, Lagos Island, Eko Atlantic City, Terra Culture Victoria Island and others.
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