Tourism operators in Nigeria on Friday called on state governors to wake up to the tourism realities within their domains and boost their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
The operators made the call during the fourth edition of the Naija Seven Wonders webinar session with the theme: “Where to Visit in Nigeria: Issue of Access and Security”.
The event was organised by Mr Ikechi Uko, the organiser of AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market.
The operators agreed that states in Nigeria were well endowed with peculiar tourism assets in likes of caves, mountains, plateaus, waterfalls, monoliths, historical relics, war relics and more which could all be transformed into wealth for the nation.
They laid special emphasis on Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Taraba, Borno and Ogun states.
Mr Dayo Adedayo, a tourism author and photographer who had visited tourism sites across the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria, was displeased with the abandonment of most tourism sites.
He said that Taraba State ought to have been the richest in the country if it had developed its tourism potential right from time.
Adedayo said the Mambila Plateau in Taraba was the highest and most beautiful plateau in Nigeria, noting that the state also had lots of other exciting tourism sites.
”The Mambila Plateau is capable of generating huge revenue for Taraba State, as far as I’m concerned Taraba State could be the richest state in Nigeria, richer than Lagos State, going by what they have touristically in the state.
”It is unfortunate with the issue of insurgency hindering lots of activities in Borno State; the state should be the second richest because it has huge tourism assets too.
”Likewise, Ogun State could go for Nigeria’s version of Mecca because we have lots of religious or spiritual tourism going on there.
”The Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta is also a tourism site, the 14th globally, with 13 others in the United States of America (USA) so Nigeria happens to be the only country with such a library across Africa,’’ he said.
According to him, it takes two days for an individual to conveniently assimilate the content.
Adedayo said: “Sugbon Eredo in Epe, Lagos State, Farin Ruwa waterfall on Nasarawa State, Awhum waterfall and cave in Enugu State are exciting sites which need to be upscaled.
”Nigeria is a beautiful country with accommodating and hospitable people with lots of opportunities at everyone’s disposal.”
Also, Shalom Asuquo, Managing Director, Travel Lab, mentioned the existence of 38 untapped Islands in Akwa Ibom where different forms of unique creatures were discovered.
Asuquo said creatures like 2-headed parrots, pythons, antelopes, chimpanzees and all were in their natural states in most of the islands.
She noted that the Agulu lake in Anambra State still remained a virgin lake, yet to be tapped, where crocodiles, tortoises, fishes were in abundance but not allowed for fishery activities.
According to her, these were forms of eco-tourism which ought to provide some forms of tourism education to people which have been left untapped.
”The Akwa Ibom State government needs to explore these islands,” she said.
Mr Rabo Saleh, President, Federation of Tourism Association (FTAN) called on the Sokoto State government to make proper preservation of the Hubbaren where late Shehu Dan Fodio, the founder of Sokoto caliphate and the Fodio dynasty were buried.
He said the ancient and famous Kano walls, a historical site built over a thousand years ago, must be positioned to generate revenue for Kano State, likewise other sites in the state.
”Nigeria is blessed with beautiful sites but remain untapped, the Katampe hills in Maitama, Abuja is the geographical centre of Nigeria, it is in a deplorable state,” he said.
Earlier, the convener of the meeting, Mr Uko called on Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to explore the enormous tourism potential in the state, with emphasis on the Mount Patti, Ofejiji waterfalls, series of plateaus and caves.
Uko said that aside the beauty of the Mount Patti, it also had historical connections with the first Governor General of the Southern and Northern protectorates during the colonial era, Sir Lord Luggard and his wife, Lady Flora Shaw.
He also called on the state governments to erect conveniences around each tourism location for tourist comfort.
”The numerous historical sites, caves, plateaus in Kogi State are enough to generate good revenue for the state if properly tapped
”Tourists must be encouraged to tour the nation’s site; government, the owner of these sites, should construct toilets around most of the sites, this is not too expensive to achieve,” he said.