In line with the Renewed Hope of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, Tourism Icon, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye is encouraging the tourism sector to look inward for the much needed prosperity.
Otunba Wanle Akinboboye affirmed the need to develop our domestic tourism market as a forerunner for international tourism.
In his opinion, Nigeria can and should develop domestic tourism before focusing on international tourism, as this will provide an opportunity to fine tune its tourism offerings before subjecting them to the scrutiny of international tourists. It will also generate income, albeit in Naira, as domestic tourists will still be spending money in the various tourism locations.
He noted that during the second quarter of 2023, UK residents (domestic tourists) spent £6.7 billion on short stay holidays within the UK. This translated to over N7 trillion in a 3 month period using current CBN official exchange rates.
Otunba Akinboboye said that the devaluation of the Naira and the rising cost of traveling abroad for holidays has created the perfect opportunity for the development of a domestic tourism market.
Otunba Akinboboye stated further that, by creating an active domestic tourism sector, Nigerians will have the opportunity to learn more about the country and develop a sense of belonging and pride in not just their village, local government or state, but in the nation as a whole.
Government he said, should make concerted effort to promote domestic tourism at all levels, to simultaneously stimulate the much needed feeling of unity that will transform the people that live within the geographical area that Flora Shaw referred to as the ‘Niger area.
“Domestic tourism will create hope and foster unity, which in turn will lead to a rebirth of our nation and prosperity. As part of domestic tourism, we should offer tourism products that generate hope and unity amongst our people, that leads to the rebirth and prosperity of Nigeria.”
The Tourism Icon, coined the acronym HURP (Hope Unity Rebirth Prosperity) to refer to the domestic tourism product that he believes can be used to achieve these goals. HURP will educate people in all 774 local governments of Nigeria about the wonderful and diverse country in which we live, by engendering pride in the nation as a whole, encouraging people to identify with it.
“It is my believe that the best way to achieve such education is via a domestic tourism product that targets interaction between ordinary people from different parts of the country. This can be achieved by a village exchange programme where, for example, villagers from Koton Karfe in Kogi State will visit an Ijaw village and see first hand what life beside the creeks and ocean really entails. Subsequently the Ijaw villagers can visit the Koton Karfe village. This exchange programme will encourage friendships and most importantly understanding of those with whom we share a common national border. They will also begin to better understand the complex nation that is Nigeria and their role in its journey towards prosperity.
“The problem of Nigeria for so long has been the feeling that our unity should be an automatic feeling. However, in reality, there must be a concerted effort to generate a feeling of unity and a common purpose among the approximately 371 tribes and 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria . It is only when we do this that we can jump start the rebirth process that is required for the prosperity of our nation. It is envisaged that the village exchange programmes will be financed by government or the corporate sector as part of their CSR and nation building efforts.
“We must create a renewed hope in Nigeria and jump start a rebirth process. We must build a platform for tomorrow’s people, as our lack of unity has hindered our development as a nation,” Otunba Wanle Akinboboye added.