Nigeria’s “Father of Tourism,” Chief Mike Amachree, has called on government across all tiers to support and pay greater attention to water transportation as an important tourism enhancer.
Amachree was speaking when members of the Association of Tourism Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) hosted him at the Tarzan Jetty, Lagos. He said, all over the world, no country that wants to do well in tourism and transport neglects water transportation, as it is a complementary mode of mobility.
He said: “A tourist has three means of movement: by air, road and water. I want to use this opportunity to encourage travellers to patronise aquatic tourism or water-based travel, which is the most interesting aspect of tourism. For instance, more people travel to Hawaii because of Wakiki Beach in Honolulu as well as Miami in Florida because of beaches.
Here in West Africa, the Gambia, one of the smallest countries in the region, attracts more international tourists because of the Banjul beach.
“Activities that can be embarked upon in water tourism include swimming, fishing, boat cruise, diving, water skiing, canoeing, boat regatta and many others.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on government at all levels to pay greater attention to water tourism and transport. The operators in water-based tourism sub-sector need greater encouragement and the enabling environment to operate.”
Amachree also called on government to build fuel stations at the waterfront that would service operators of water transportation. He said the issue of building filling stations to service operators in water-based tourism has been on for many years. Government needs to act by providing these operators with fuel stations, “instead of them using jerry cans in search of fuel.”
He commended the Lagos State government in its efforts to open up the waterways and urged the state to partner with ATBOWATON to further improve water transportation in the state.
“The Lagos State government has done much in building modern jetties, but they should partner with boat operators to further open up the waterways for safe travel on water and greater usage of the lagoons and the ocean,” he said.
Amachree charged ATBOWATON as a body to reach out and involve other riverine areas of the federation.
His words: “I advise you to reach out and encourage water-based tourism all over the country, and to include riverine areas of Nigeria in the association. Places to be included are Lokoja, Kogi State; Okitipupa, Ondo State; Twon-Brass, Bayelsa State; Argungu waterfront, Kebbi State; Oguta Lake, Imo State; Sapele waterfront, Delta State; Kono waterfront, Ogoni, Rivers State; Kainji Dam, Niger State; Port Harcourt tourist beach, Rivers State; Badagry waterfront in Lagos; Nike Lake, Enugu; Bagauda Lake, Kano; Kaduna River waterfront, and many others.”
President of ATBOWATON, Mr. Tarzan Gani Balogun, said it was in recognition of the tremendous contribution of Amachree that the boat operators decided to hold the special event in his honour. He said Amachree has been the galvanising force in the promotion and development of tourism in Nigeria, and he had been of tremendous help to tourism industry players all over the country for many years.
Meshileya called on government to empower boat operators to improve on their services. He called for loans to help them purchase boats and meet other needs.