Sometime in May 2010, a business partner and I travelled to the United Arab Emirate to purchase some IT equipment for a project here in Nigeria. At the beautiful and very busy Dubai International Airport, a local company offered us a free tour ticket on the condition that after the tour, we would stop by their office for a real estate sales pitch. We agreed.
At the tour company, we boarded a vehicle which looked like a barge. After taking us around the busy roads of the city, the vehicle raced towards a shoreline and splashed into River. We had our hearts in our mouth, wondering whether we were being plunged to our death. But it turned out that we were in a special purpose vehicle that could travel both on land and on water. It was my first travel adventure and I had a great time.
However, as the trip came to an end, it occurred to me that most of the people in the vehicle that day were Nigerians. The tour guide who was not a Nigerian sang the country’s national anthem and spoke to us in some of its major languages just to let us know how much he was familiar with Nigeria and Nigerians. Everywhere we went to in Dubai, there was a Nigerian having fun or shopping.
It is highly probable that most Nigerians roaming the streets of Dubai for pleasure do not know “jack” about the tourist destinations across the states of Nigeria. If given the opportunity most Nigerian would prefer travelling out for their holidays. According to a recent report in the Premium Times,
“Nigerians are considered some of the most widely travelled people around the world. In 2016, the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies disclosed that as much as $2.3 billion was generated by Nigerian travel agents in 2014 from ticket sales for foreign airlines and tour services”
The good news, however, is that some Nigerians take the local tourist destinations very seriously. One of such Nigerians is Mercy Luka. She lives outdoors where she loves to roam. Roam in places traversing the nooks and crannies of the outbacks of Nigeria.
Just mention any of the national parks in Nigeria, she would probably have been there or planning to go there.
She has sat with the great sculptors and their sculptures in the warrior, ancient Benin Kingdom. She has swam with a school of fresh water cat fish in the sweet springs of Abraka River, Delta State. She has climbed rocky ranges and ravines in search of water falls and mountain goats in Nasarawa state and beyond.
I don’t know whether she been to the warm springs of Ikogosi or the mist capped hills of obudu in Cross Rivers. But Miss Mercy Luka confirmed she has been to the following places and she has tons of pictures to prove it.
1. Yankari game reserve, Bauchi state
2. Gurara waterfalls, Niger state
3. Gurara Dam, Niger state.
4. Kagoro hills, Kaduna state
5. Matsirga waterfalls, Kaduna state
6. Gamji park, Kaduna Kaduna state
7. Jos wildlife park, Plateau state
8. Kerang hills Jos, Plateau state
9. Kura falls Jos, Plateau state
10. Jos museum, Plateau state
11. Gashaka gumti nat. park, Taraba state
12. Mambilla plateau, Taraba state
13. Kamuku nat. Park, Kaduna Kaduna state
14. Kainji nat. Park, Niger/Kwara states
15. Kainji Dam, Niger/Kwara states
16. Usman Dam, FCT Abuja
17. Zuma Rock, Niger State
18. Nat. Park HQ, Abuja (Orphanage and Museum)
19. Abuja Children park
20. Farin ruwa waterfall, Nasarawa State.
21. Benin nat. museum, Edo state
(With the legendary “guitar boy” Sir Victor Uwaifo)
22. Okomu nat. Park, Edo State
(Tree house Okomu National Park)
23. Abraka Turf resort, Delta state
24. Lekki Conservation Center, Lagos state
25. Elegushi royal beach Lekki, Lagos State
26. Karshi waterfalls, Abuja
But Mercy is not a lone hunter of places. She is in company of a gang of young Nigerians who want to explore the treasures of their country. And their wishes are facilitated by great Nigerians companies such as Motley travels and Naija Adventurers just to mention a few.
The national parks in Nigeria where established by futuristic Nigerians who knew that tourism can be a cash cow just like any other natural resource. We have seen how tourism has put the United Arab Emirate on the world map for holiday travels. Can government do more in terms of infrastructure to support the industry and make Nigeria more attractive to foreign tourists? Can government do more to support companies like Motley travels and Naija Adventurers? That will be the way to go as revenue from oil continues to falter.
Until more is done to support the sector, we must applaud these young Nigerians for discounting all the risks and challenges often cited for the low interest in local tourism to explore their country and enjoy their lives.
Here at Newspackng, we will be glad to offer the adventurers a platform to share their experiences in words and images from across Nigeria. And as they say in French, Bon Voyage!
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