Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Action Tourism- is this the way forward?

Often countries like Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon- African countries with immense oil and gas wealth often pay lip service to diversifying their economic base. However, it has often not moved beyond the rhetoric phrases of the political leaders of these countries. On the other hand countries like United Arab Emirates and Norway with declining Oil reserve have confronted their fast depleting national wealth in a more precise and succint manner. UAE specifically is a good example: turning to Tourism and Trade as a key revenue generator for the future. With its oil reserve depleting in 2015, it has invested heavily in tourism - building over 4 man made Island currently and experiencing a technology and property boom that goes with it. The Free Trade concept around its Zero Duty zones of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have also turned this pennisular nation to the fastest and most modern Middle Eastern economy, far ahead of both Israel and Saudi Arabia - even though these countries are bigger and more powerful by many standards.

I just came back from the city Island of South Padre off the coast of Mexico and Texas : called "Texico"- joining college spring breakers to catch up on some of the missen fun of college days (just because of engineering- don't blame me). I liked South Padre Island , and cannot get past how this kind of tourism spot cannot be in our continent and specifically Nigeria. Starting with 5 beach or Island settlements in Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Rivers and Cross Rivers- Nigeria can develop infrastructure - road, electricity and water and encourage local property investors to put up posh clubs, parks, golf courses, food joints (mama put will do), condominums and hotels as well as convention centers to facilitate this push into real tourism. Instead of the dispersed 30 day public holiday we currently run, government can grant its own workers (that account for 25-40% of formal workforce) a long public holiday similar to the memorial day weekend or thanksgiving weekend- to jump start this critical sector yearly. Bonuses and offers to entice local vacationers to these developed beach spots in Nigerian coastal cities will achieve among many things economic revival for these towns and cities, increased diversification of our economy, better understanding of the peculiar nature of the geography of these areas which will encourage other zones to become more interested in their development(since we all definitely enjoy good vacations) and better health for Nigerians that seem to have the word "vacation" missing from their dictionary with a resultant high rate of cardiac arrest and sudden death.

It is my belief that the way forward for Nigerian tourism is not bringing in foreign tourists. We already have a 120 million man strong market for local tourism and it provides a unique opportunity to strenghten national unity as well as our economy. Until practical steps are taken in this direction and our leaders start leading by example (case in point all governors and the President can head to the new beach cities to encourage vacationers to be there as well), then we will just be wasting precious newspaper space by vaunting some myopic economic development vis a vis diversification policy. You can check out my Flash-Album (No Flash?) of my visit to South Padre island and I must say it is highly recommended.


umc said...

Talk about Tourism as a way forward in naija and these are places there could be good action.

Selected Tourist Destinations In Nigeria

(Natural & Historical Attractions)

Anambra State
Ogbunike Cave
Igbo-Ukwu (Archeological excavation)
Rojenny Amusement & Tourist
Center, Oba

Bauchi State
Yankari Games Reserve
Tafawa Balewa Tomb

Benue State
Confluence Zone
Kpata Rocks at Bussa
Enembia Spring

Borno State
Lake Chad Sanctuary
Kukawa Tombs of the Shehus.

Cross River State
Obudu Cattle Ranch
Qua Falls

Edo State
The Oba’s Palace
Old City Wall in Benin Museum

Gongola State
Mambila Plateau
Lamido’s Place, Yola

Imo State
Oguta Lake (Holiday Resort)
Owerri Mbari

Kaduna State
Emir’s Palace, Zaria.
Kagoro Hills.

Kwara State
Borgu Games Reserve
Bishop Ajayi Crowther’s House

Kano State
Bogauda Rock
Castle Resort
The Zoological Garden

Lagos State
National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.
Badagry Beach.
Lekki Beach.
Bar Beach.
Alpha Beach
Eleko Beach.
Art Palace, Yaba.
First Storey Building, Badagry.
Lekki Conservation Centre

Niger State
Gurara Falls
Zuma Rock, Suleja

Ondo State.
Ikosi Warm Springs
Idanre Hills
Holy Apostles Community, (Aiyetoro)

Oyo State
Erin-Ijesha Water Falls
Oshun Oshogbo Shrine

Ogun State
Olumo Rock
Shrine of Birikisu, Sungbo

Plateau State
Jos Museum
Jos Zoo

River State
Isaac Boro Amusement Park
King Jaja of Opobo’s grave
Slave Port, Brass and Bonny

Sokoto State
Argungu Festival Village
Usman Dan Fodio’s Tomb
Badagry, Seaport in the years of slavery, beach, cultural center, of tall coconut trees.


Calabar famous for Mary Slessor, this is one of Nigeria’s early contact points with Christianity and the evidence is all over the place. Here you see the tombstone of Mary Slessor, great missionary who spearheaded the abolition of the killing of twins here and in other places: the famous Ekpe and Nnabo masquerades; the beautifully attired Abang dancers who move their waist like the tender lines of good love poem; you can drink good palmwine in the soft glow of the moon; and take special cruises down the estuary of the sea.

North of Calabar, there is the Qua Falls, a mighty, breath-taking water fall, in the heart of Nigeria’s rain forest, the Oban rain forest, where the Cross River National Park – 2800 square kilometers of incredibly diversified ecosystem-is located. There is something ethereal about this water fall, and the one at Agbokim, one hour away. You can walk through the park and catch a glimpse of some very rare specie of wildlife. About two hours away from Qua Falls is the greeny Obudu Cattle Ranch, temperate climate in tropical Nigeria. With it’s own accommodation, the Ranch offers a retreat of sorts to tourist, including a modern golf course.

Yankari Games Reserve

A large expanse of savannah forest of 2,240 square kilometers in the North Eastern neighbourhood of Nigeria, in Bauchi State. Yankari boasts of Nigeria’s closest attempt at a safari resort.

The Game Reserve affords you the opportunity to get friendly with wild animals, beasts which are almost becoming human because here they are treated with love and respect. A government law prohibits poaching here and visitors can cruise around in jeeps and see this cinematic splendour.

Oguta Lake Resort.

In this little neat town with one beautiful lake stretching away into the horizon, going as far as the Atlantic, where you can go to bed at night, perhaps at the Oguta Lake Motel, and watch the light from the oil prospecting field energise the sky.

In the early morning, the gentle waters of Oguta Lake welcome you with its shimmers, taking you down where you meet one of the spectacular sites of life: Two points of the waters that come together, tumble and twist like crocodile that is having a bath, but never mixing. One muddy and the other clear as the day, making the body of water and yet not being one body of water. It is a heady experience, now being celebrated by the natives every Orie market day with songs and dances and feasting, worshipped with two shrines and much reverence. They are called the two waters, if they can be called that, Ihu-Urashi and Ihu-Ogbide, and there is a local legend that if you put them in one glass, it explodes.

Ondo State

Ondo State boasts of the Ikogosi Warm Springs, of the Iho-Eleru, the cave of Ashes where it is said Thurstan Shaw, the famous archaeologist, found the bones of prehistoric man, dated to more than 8,000 years B.C. Further south, you will come onto the massive glory of the Olumo Rock, in Abeokuta (the city of rocks), a cave of many mysteries and stories. It is reputed to have saved the Egbas, the main inhabitants of Abeokuta, during the old days of inter-tribal wars and its stature has continued to grow since. It is a cave with a lot of secrets, one that offers you the peculiar pleasure of rediscovering yourself.


The serene Lekki and Eleko beaches at Victoria Island, as well as the Takwa Bay Island, provide some important opportunities for man to commune with his environment, to test his wits and humour against the gentle explosions of water on earth. Off the Marina is the Takwa Bay with its friendly natives, fresh coconuts and two beaches, as well as a yacht club and boat rides that provide extra dimensions to fun.


Badagry, seaport in the years of slavery, beach, cultural center, of tall coconuts and brilliant twilights, simply stuns you with its abundance of contradictions. It is here, under the shadow of a tree, that the first Christian sermon was preached in Nigeria. That was in 1842, under the famous agia tree, under a certain unsmiling white man, Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman.

It is also here that you see the very first Nigerian storey building, a whitewashed one-storey effort put together by the early missionaries with an atrocious sense of architecture.


Nigeria’s new political capital, Abuja is a town in the grip of its own importance; a city to visit for business and for leisure. You can just take a ride around the city, to watch the architecture, you can be confounded by the inscrutable face of Zuma, a large rock that leads out of the city, a rock that harbours a million unspoken secrets. You can do little peep-see of the imposing Aso Rock, seat of the presidency.

Take a trip to Gurara Falls in nearby Niger State. It is a place of such infinite beauty.

The Benin Wall

The longest, most extensive pre-mechanical era earthworks were the Linear Earth Boundaries, dated to c. 1300 in Benin City, the capital and hub of the Benin Empire. In 1993 it was estimated that their total length was around 16,000 km (10,000 miles) and that the volume of earth moved was 75 million m3 (100 million yd3). Oba Oguola dug a set of moat in c. 1280 and Ewuare dug another set in c. 1440.

The objective was not to build a moat but to build a wall for defence.

Nigerians are typically warm and hospitable people. This tradition is reflected in some of the five star hotels in some of the major cities such as Lagos and Abuja. Catering to the business and leisure travel needs of customers and guests. In Lagos, you will find the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Le Meridien Eko Hotel and the Whispering Palms in Badagry. In Abuja, there are many world-class hotels such as Abuja Sheraton Hotel & Towers, NICON-Noga Hilton Hotel, Agura Hotel, Chelsea Hotel etc.

An exciting blend of traditional African culture and modern development, Lagos has many captivating building such as the National Theatre and the International Trade Fair Complex.

For those in love with Night-clubs, the place to be is The Niteshift Coliseum, situated in Ikeja. The Coliseum is a bold response to the leisure needs of our people. It’s multi-purpose nature and cosy ambience gives it an irresistible appeal to a cross section of Nigerians and foreigners alike with class and panache.

Busayo Michael Oluwagbemi said...

Sir UMC nice revelation- while some states like Cross River and Lagos are doing a lot in this sector some are doing very little. Ikogosi is in Ekiti State- u want to cause border fight? I will send madam T after you..Ekiti Amazon

t said...

Hey, cool pictures. Thanks.

One hindrance to people willingly coming to Nigeria for tourism is bad press - about kidnaps and the like. When tourism is important, a country gets serious about safety and the perception of safety.

On the other hand, good stories help, like watching the special on Marc Brown's trip to Nigeria on the news in Pasadena recently, made me long to hang out in Northern Nigeria for a bit. I actually hope to do that someday. As does a friend of mine named Bobby. Someday.

I'll show this post to one of my sisters whose studies at school relate to tourism...

How do you know so many interesting places in Nigeria?

If there was a pretty web site with all this info, or a pretty little "AAA" or "Lonely Planet" travel guide...I saw a travel guide book for West Africa, but it wasn't the pretty kind. I only buy pretty and small travel guides.

Can't underestimate the power of the web. Someone somewhere in the world thinks, I want to go to Africa, they start with google, see what they find, hotels, info about what to do, they make reservations, bam. In Nigeria, we speak English, and we know how to build websites and other folks are kicking our butts when it comes to doing our own advertising and PR (they learn English, they find someone to build a pretty site, they put pictures, hire somebody to answer email enquiries - I've seen people do this, so it can be done, by whoever wants the challenge.)

I'm not touching local tourism for now. Time flies...

t said...

I just did a quick search and indeed, the websites are there, and they seem very good, sometimes including an email address for specific tours. good stuff.

t said...

...but guess who gets all the search hits for "africa tourism"? I guess that would be one way to push these beautiful webpages to the consumer - being conscious of keywords.

umc said...

Cross River state is doing a whole lot, Obudu Ranch is amazingly beautiful and check out http://www.tinapa.com/ , Gov. Duke pulled this off kinda fast.
Sorry dear, Ikogosi in Ekiti state. Thank you Busayo Michael Oluwagbemi and yes there has got to be local patronage to local tourism, that's what the president and his friends ought to start and encourage.

Busayo Michael Oluwagbemi said...

Thanks for digging up the Tinapa thing- but I can't believe the whole complex will not have golf course- a biz resort without a course? Anyway, knowing Nigeria for what it is I wont be surprised if the golf course shows up somehow after construction- authentic fire brigade approach

t said...

I just re-read your post, Busayo. You raise some good ideas - that there could be serious opportunities to tap the local market for tourism, that travelling within our country could enhance a sense of oneness, and promote unity...
I didn't notice the points you'd made earlier...

Maxwell said...

"Often countries like Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon- African countries with immense oil and gas wealth often pay lip service to diversifying their economic base."

Very true! You know, I havent a clue what the heck is wrong with political leadership over here. Africa has soooo many resources (just peek Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, plus the notable mentions above), yet corrupt leadership brings everything down like a deck of cards. As a Canadian from the Caribbean, I always heard of "this and that" with regards to African leadership, but now I'm here in Nairobi, Jesus Chr#st!! It's worse than I imagined, yet there are tons of business opportunities available.
Kenya has an excellent national parks system, which is predominantly used by tourists because a vast percentage of locals simply can't afford it. What a shame. Perhaps with the power of the Net, things can and will change as T suggested.

Oh, with regards to Tourism, keep your eyes on AyoAfrica.com. We plan to make this a huge EBusiness web portal catering to local businesses on the continent. My local partner (10 years with Kobo Safaris) and I have a million and one ideas that will be introduced later...and tourism is going to be a huge part of it by utilising Info Tech (scheduling, HR, CRM, logisics, etc.) in order to provide compelling choices on a wide array of tour packages everywhere. Stay tuned! Hopefully we can obtain partnerships with tour operators in your country so that consumers will obtain more choices.

{Oh, the site is still in the works, not ready yet!}

t said...

You want to visit Nigeria but don't know where to start?
You have a Nigerian friend - Let him/her know of your plans. You might get some kind of hook-up :)
You are interested in art and have no Nigerian friends and have a reasonably large budget - check out the site of artist and entrepreneur Nike, who now does Nigerian tourism
I haven't tried this myself (extensive Nigerian tourism or Nikearts services) but meeting her was cool. I went to check out her art at the gallery in Lekki, Lagos. She's energetic and NOT a doormat. She's very traditional and very travelled.

t said...

Read more about Nigeria Arts and this awesome Nike woman here

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