Africa: Nigerian tourism professionals highlight the beauty of local destinations in domestic tourism drive

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The second edition of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria Zoom Conference organised by Naija7Wonders.com in conjunction with ATQNews.com has successfully taken place today June 26, 2020. The virtual conference which was anchored by Amb. Ikechi Uko featured five Nigerian tour operators, namely: Chairman of the Board of Trustees of National Tour Operator of Nigeria (NATOP), Nkereuwem Onung of Remlords, Namure Erhahon of Brisk Travels, Michael Balogun (Tour2Nigeria), Chiamaka Obuekwe (Social Prefect Tours) and Erelu Funmi Rotiba of Special Tours & Travel.

Also, several important bigwigs in the tourism industry and government, such as leaders of various travel and tourism bodies signed in to the conference. Among whom were the Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Information & Culture), Grace Gekpe; Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folly Coker and the former Commissioner for Tourism Lagos State, Steve Ayorinde who all gave brief remarks, commending the laudable efforts of the organiser at pushing domestic tourism at a time like this.

The panelists spoke about some of their favourite tourists’ sites in the country. Starting with Namure, she highlighted the famous Obudu Mountain Resort, hinting that it could be a great spot for adventure tourism. She also believes that if accessibility is improved it will appeal to a whole lot more people, and tour operators can do a package of Obudu along with the Carnival Calabar.

Furthermore, she talked about the Ikogosi Warm Springs in Ekiti State, and spoke on how tourism can generate income for locals who can sell souvenirs and mementos around the locations. Namure also talked about the Matsiga Waterfalls in Kaduna which drops about 30 meters above sea level. She highlighted the beauty of the location, and how it can be a potential birdwatcher’s paradise.

Fourth on her list was Abuja, which she highlighted as a great place for adventure tourism with hiking, backpacking and camping opportunities. To round up her presentation, she talked about the famous Bini Moat in Edo State, which made the list of the first set of Seven Wonders of Nigeria in 2012. She elaborated on the many attractions that can be added as a total package to the Bini Moat, such as visits to the Oba’s Palace, Igun Street which is famous for bronze casting and the Igue Festival.

The second speaker was the former President of NATOP, who highlighted the Bridge of No return in Akwa Ibom first on his list. It is a historical site which deals with the slave trade and couple with the racism issue which came to a head with the murder of George Floyd in America, the site seems a lot significant.

Mr. Onung also spoke about the Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, also in Akwa Ibom which he described as iconic. The facility which he suggests is appropriate as a MICE and conference centre boasts of a wellness centre, 18-hole golf course, and a helipad.

The Old Residency Museum in Calabar, Cross River State was next on his list which served as the administrative residence in the colonial times. He reminded the audience that Calabar was the capital of pre-independent Nigeria. Also, Mr. Onung spoke about the Ikom Monoliths in Alok which numbered about 300. The stones are laid out in 30 circles. He closed up his presentation by buttressing Obudu Mountain Resort, informing everyone that both the cable car and waterparks are now functional after undergoing repairs.

Up next was Michael Balogun who took everyone on a mental tour of Badagry. Pointing to the #blacklivesmatter phenomenon, he mentioned that the first storey building in Nigeria was built in Badagry in 1852 by missionaries, and that it still houses the first Bible printed in Nigeria. Also, he stated that the Gospel was first preached under a tree in Badagry. Some of the places he mentioned included, the Brazilian Baracoon, Gberefun and the Point of No Return.

Second on Balogun’s list was Osun State, highlighting the Osogbo sacred Grove which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He talked about how the grove became popular through the activities of the Austrian Susan Wenger, who became Adunni Olorisa. Next, he talked about the Moremi statue in Ife, also in Osun State, which is claimed as the tallest monument in Nigeria. Finally, he talked about the Erin Ijesa Waterfalls which has seven floors. He spoke on the therapeutic effects of the sound of waterfalls.

Chiamaka aka Social Prefect came up next and spoke about Idanre Hills first on her list. She believes that apart from the breath-taking views from the top of the hills in Ondo State, there is so much more that can be done or added to the location, such as cable car or zipline. She mentioned that it was about a four to five-hour drive from Lagos.

She also talked about the Gurara Falls in Niger State which was discovered by a Gwari hunter in 1754, and that it was about one hour thirty minutes’ drive from Abuja. Social Prefect also talked about the Yankari Games River and focused on the Wikki Warm Springs which is located in the reserve. She elaborated about the blue waters of the spring that you can see a pin at the bottom very clearly, while the waters always were warm season in and season out.

Erelu Rotiba spoke about the Old Oyo National Park as a potential safari destination in Nigeria, before moving on to highlight Idere Hills which features some spectacular balancing rocks like the ones in Jos, Plateau State and Epworth in Harare, Zimbabwe.

She also spoke about two festivals, the Aso-Ofi festival and Olojo festival, and also touched on the Ekiti Parapo (Kiriji War) Imesi-ile museum. Erelu Funmi Rotiba also pointed attention to the issues of access and language barrier as hindrance to the promotion of some of these sites. However, she scored a major point when she highlighted the issue of public conveniences being present at these locations for people.

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