The Federal Government has urged tourism operators in Nigeria to document nation’s heritage sites for ease of access for investors and tourists.
Deaconess Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, made the call on Friday during the Naija Seven Wonder online webinar with the theme: “Where to Visit in Nigeria: Issues of Access and Security”, organised by Mr Ikechi Uko, Organiser, AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market.
She said that proper documentation of Nigerian tourism sites would go a long way in creating awareness of the existence of those sites for both local and international tourists.
She urged the tourism operators who had the right knowledge of these heritage sites to get a compilation of these sites in a document.
“This is a laudable programme but I will want the tourism operators to get the heritage sites properly documented for investors to know these places.
“I will encourage the documentation of these sites without which we will only be talking without making progress on promoting domestic tourism,” she said.
Mr Folorunsho Coker, Director-General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), urged the tourism operators to alert local owners of tourism sites on the needed improvements on the sites.
He said presently, tourism activities had been on a standstill due to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, urging operators to look inwards, restrategise in projecting Nigeria tourism sites to the world post COVID-19.
“Am glad that tourism operators are beginning to look inwards, focusing on domestic tourism which will be of great importance to all,” he said.
Also, Mr Steve Ayorinde, former Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, urged every Nigerian to be fully involved in the promotion of domestic tourism as the need for domestic tourism to thrive could not be over-emphasised.
He said the tourism operators must constantly remind Nigerians and tourists generally of the existence of these sites because people’s attention was usually competing for different engagements.
“I advise that we all consume our own in terms of domestic tourism, avail ourselves of the opportunity to be domestic tourists.
“Tour operators should try to rekindle people’s interest in touring Nigeria,” he said.
Earlier, some tourism stakeholders educated Nigerians on the need to prioritise touring the nation while they harped on the potentialities of those sites.
Mr Nkereuwem Onung, Chairman Board of Trustee, Nigeria Association of Tour Operators, suggested Obudu Mountain Resort as an ideal place for couples’ honeymoon.
He said some of the fascinating tourists sites in the Eastern part of Nigeria were Ikom Monolith which had more than 300 cap stones, Ibom Hotel and resort with about 18hole golf course, a helipad and other attractions.
Also, Chiamaka Obuekwe, Managing Director, Social Prefect Tours, educated on the beautiful landscape of Idanre hills with 660 steps to get to the top, good for hiking and all forms of adventure.
“There are beautiful tourism sites in the Northern part of the country but yet untapped, we have the Yankari Games Reserve in Bauchi State where people can experience wildlife, also the Wikki Warm Spring which remains warm regardless of the weather.
“We have the Burara waterfall in Niger State for people who want to experience nature,” she said.
Funmi Rotiba of Special Tours and Travels said some of the challenges tour operators faced in trying to groom domestic tourism were the problems of language barrier, lack of access to toilets at tourism sites, security and poor road network.
He called on the Federal Government and Nigerians generally to work unanimously in solving most of the aforementioned challenges.
“Nigerian tour operators need to include the Aso-Ofi International Festival and Olojo Festival as part of their packages to market to local and international tourists, we should have more tourists coming to experience most of our local festivals,” she said.
Mr Micheal Balogun, Managing Director, Tour2Nigeria, said the coastal town of Badagry in Lagos State was another place loaded with fascinating tourism sites.
He said according to history, Badagry was the first town in Nigeria where Christianity was first preached in 1842 and it housed the first storey-building, built by the European missionaries in 1845.
“Badagry also houses the first printed Bible, the slave museum is another place to explore which usually leaves tourists emotional whenever they visit.
“Other fascinating sites are Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove which had been listed as UNESCO World heritage site, Moremi Ajasoro status, Erin Ijesha waterfall and more,” he said.