Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) has marked the 2017 World Tourism Day celebration with an effort to market cruise tourism around Lagos State as it explored the Five Cowrie Creek waterways even as it urged the government of Nigeria to support the efforts of the private sector tour operators in the country by providing subsidized coaches to encourage especially the young and upcoming tour operators in their entrepreneurial effort to promote the country’s tourism and in packaging of tours.
The boat cruise for this year was done in partnership with Tarzan Jetty, a foremost water transport and cruise company in Lagos which has been in the business for over 30 years.
September 27 is celebrated all over the world as the World Tourism Day to mark the vital and growing impact of that sector in economies of countries all over the world. This year’s World Tourism Day focused on Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development. It was dedicated to exploring the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
President of NATOP, Mr. Nkereuwem Onung, speaking on the contributions of tourism to the SDG noted that, “In Africa only four countries contribute to about 60 per cent of the tourist arrivals into the continent and that from that number only about 10 per cent arrivals come to West Africa. And Nigeria receives less. Government needs to demonstrate its commitment by supporting the private sector operatives. But the private sector operatives should not give up.
“We are celebrating this year’s World Tourism Day because there is no communication from the government. So, we had to take our destinies in our own hands. Our effort here is to promote domestic tourism.
“I am very excited with the young tour operators in our midst as they are the future of this industry. Many of them may not be making much money now because they are just doing it because of their passion. Passion should lead to fortune. That is why I am urging the government of Nigeria to provide subsidized buses and coaches to help their efforts in packaging tours. Domestic tourism must lead to inbound tourism; but if not, then it’s not fulfilling its mission”, he said.
The cruise kicked off from the Tarzan Jetty Lekki Expressway through Lagos Five Cowrie Creek with breathtaking views of Banana Island, Osborne, Oba of Lagos Palace, Ebute-Ero, 3rd Mainland Bridge, Bonny Camp and Apapa dockyard down to the Oba of Ilashe Town, HRM Oba Fatai Akinwunmi, the Onilashe of Ilashe Kingdom.
The Oba received the tour operators and Executive of NATOP with gladness. The Oba explained that he expects that after this visit the number of tourists coming into Ilashe would have increased tremendously. He admonished the younger tour operators and youths to, “To engage in meaningful endeavours to get wealth and avoid engaging with bad gangs with a get-rich-quick syndrome”.
The Lagos Boat Cruise continued to Inagbe resorts along the creek.
Members of the cruise had lunch at Inagbe Resort and were entertainment by salsa and hip-hop dancers.
While reacting to the event, Mrs. Nneka Moses of Goge Africa said that, “We know that government has a lot in their hands but they need to make out time and pay a little more attention to tourism. Nigeria will be better off for it.” She also praised the efforts of the organizers.
Mr. Michael Balogun of Tour2Nigeria, with excitement appreciated the effort from the organizers while expecting the government should be sincere and practical in resolving several issues discouraging inbound tourism into Nigeria which he believes they already know from some of the interactions and engagements with them.
Mrs. Bolaji Mustapha, responding to the event said, “We decided to do something different from what we have done in the past. We have done road trip many times, so we thought it a great idea to do a water cruise. Next time we should be doing it with helicopters!(She laughs).
“We are not getting the support we should from government. But we just have to push ourselves. We are the critical stakeholders in this industry. So, we need to not give up but continue to push ourselves. No one is going to do it for us if we do not do it”, she concluded.
World Tourism Day has been celebrated since 1980 on September 27, the day in which the Statutes of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) entered into force. It is worthy of note that the day September 27 for World Tourism Day was first mooted by a Nigerian, Mr. Ignatius Atigbi. Ignatius Atigbi was later honored by the UNWTO posthumously with an Award in 2009 for his effort. Peace and Dialogue, Energy, Accessibility, World Heritage and Water and Tourism have been some of the topics tackled on the 37 previous editions of World Tourism Day.
“Last year alone, 1.235 million travellers crossed international borders in one single year. By 2030, this 1.2 billion will become 1.8 billion. The question, as we celebrate World Tourism Day 2017, is how we can enable this powerful global transformation force, these 1.8 billion opportunities, to contribute to make this world a better place and to advance sustainable development in all its three pillars. This World Tourism Day, whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to respect nature, respect culture and respect your host,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
The cruise ended with a return to Tarzan jetty
By Renn Offor