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Advocating for Stronger Domestic Tourism: A Call for Government Support and Prioritization of Culture, Religion, and Music

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Mr. Ikechi Uko, the Travel and Tourism Ambassador, has expressed his concern about the historical lack of government support for private sector efforts in promoting domestic tourism in Nigeria.

He emphasized the pivotal role played by private firms and a select few states in this regard.

He urged both the Federal and State Governments to actively support private sector initiatives aimed at fostering domestic tourism in the country.

During a speech on ‘Rethinking Tourism in Nigeria’ at a Nigerian South African Chamber of Commerce Breakfast meeting sponsored by Philips Consulting, he proposed three ways to revitalize tourism in Nigeria:

Leveraging the positive impact of projects like Naija7Wonders, Nigeria Tourism Lovers, Goge Africa, and Naija Explorers, which have been driving domestic tourism growth, with active participation from states like Cross River, Osun, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, and Ekiti.

Emphasizing religious tourism through events such as the Osun Osogbo festival, Synagogue of Church All Nations events, and mega churches that attract visitors.

Promoting cultural events like the Eyo Festival, New Yam Festival, Bini Igue festival, Argungu Fish Festival, and Durbar Festivals.

He highlighted the success of Carnival Calabar due to its contemporary nature and global mass appeal.

Mr. Uko also discussed the potential of using the global success of Nigerian artists in the music industry to enhance tourism, citing examples of their appearances at international events.

Furthermore, he pointed out that a survey of the Top 10 Domestic destinations included those states, with Akwa Ibom joining for the first time in 2022, as a result of Naija7Wonders and NATOP AGM.

He identified the major reasons why Nigerians travel based on data from various sources, including VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives), religion, business, school, leisure, M.I.C.E (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions), Medical tourism, and ‘JAPA.’

Mr. Uko criticized the allocation of government funds to events that do not attract tourists, both from abroad and Nigeria, while ignoring those that have proven to contribute to tourism growth.

He called for a shift in priorities to address Nigeria’s imbalance between outbound and inbound/domestic tourism.

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