Nigeria’s day of glory at SITA 2014

By OKORIE UGURU
In Nigeria
Mar 7th, 2014
0 Comments
84 Views

THE members of the Atunda Group, a part of the La Campagne contingent to the Saloon International du Tourism d’Abidjan (SITA), danced energetically. Being professional dancers, there was a synch in their movement.

The tempo of the drums increased and the dance became a bit more urgent and pulsating. The dancers were equal to the task. Within minutes, the Nigerian stand was filled with people. It is part of the tricks adopted by stand owners in tourism fairs to draw attention and attract visitors to a particular stand.

The La Campagne group with about 50-man strong contingent made sure that Nigeria did not only impress in numerical strength , but brought colour an d life by the performance of artistes like Afe Onikoko, Olo the bata drummer and Anu with her Ekwe.

After wowing the visitors to the fair, the organizers asked them to perform at a special evening music event on the premises of the Golf Hotel Abidjan where the event took place. They still requested for an encore performance during the gala night. It was the first participation of any Nigerian organization in SITA. Certainly, the organizers would be asking more participation by Nigerians in future events due to what they got this year.

SITA has become a meeting point for Francophone countries in West Africa to do tourism business, network and interact. It is in its fourth edition. It is held annually on the expansive premises of one of the top hotels in Abidjan, Hotel du Golf. The fair, in terms of attendance, captures a large chunk core tourism service providers and ancillary service providers. Buoyed with huge support from the government, core tourism and related agencies, both in the public and private sectors, register their presence.

Among the African countries in attendance were Senegal, Mali, Benin, Congo Democratic Republic, Cameroun, Algeria, Morocco, Burkina Faso and many others.

The complexion of the event was purely a Francophone affair. That was the reason the presence of Nigeria, through La Campagne Tropicana Resort, made a huge impact and turned out to be the focus of attention. Many wondered why an Anglophone country would waste money and time to participate.

Otunba Wanle Akinboboye disagreed with this. He said it was time to take the issue of regional integration beyond the conference table. “Well, for SITA which is in its fourth edition, Nigeria, in the last three editions, has never been represented. I came here about a week and a half ago. They asked me why Nigeria had not been participating. I wanted to know who they had been sending these invitations to. But I decided on my own I would just come on behalf of Nigeria, La Campagne Tropicana and in the spirit of co-operation amongst ECOWAS countries in the area of tourism. I am glad I am here. Every step taken towards the promotion of tourism is a good one. This is our first; we have broken the ground. By next year, I m sure Nigeria will be fully represented.

“You know if the heart is willing, there is really no language barrier. You can always get an interpreter, but most of the people around here do speak some English. I have a full office here. I don’t think we should allow language to hold us back from doing business on the continent, especially in ECOWAS. I think that ECOWAS is made up of the Anglophone and the Francophone countries, and if you look at the continent, especially West Africa, when Francophone countries are doing something, they tend not to remember the Anglophone speaking countries in West Africa, and verse versa.

“We have got to put a stop to that because there are many benefits for us in the Francophone speaking countries as much as the Francophone speaking countries would benefit in the Anglophone countries. So, I believe strongly that we have broken the ground now. I have not seen Ghana, even if they are represented, from the representatives, you will see that they are not taking it seriously. It is the same for other Anglophone speaking countries.

“Nigeria has the highest delegation of over 50 people, and we had just about one and half weeks to prepare. So we are sure for next year, we will be fully on ground. We have a whole year to prepare. We will get all the other private tourism associations in Nigeria and practitioners to be involved.

“By next year, they will feel Nigeria in the full; they will feel our impact. I really cannot talk about what will happen next year, but we are going to start preparing for next year now. I will do a letter to the honourable minister. I will also do another one to the Director- General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). We will get all practitioners involved . I am more of the private sector, so I am going to get the FTAN president, ANJET, NATOP and all the others represented next year. It is hard for me to be unhappy with the ministry or the NTDC because they had a very short notice.

“ So it is a bit difficult for them to react, but we will make sure they get the letters early for next year’s event. As a matter fact, we will make sure that they get the letters of invitation this year, so that they can put it in the budget and plan properly for it,”Akinboboye said.

He said in terms of business, the Nigerian tourism industry would gain a lot participating in SITA: “It has been wonderful; I think they are very excited to have Nigeria. I hope you know that they have given me 20 different spots to replicate La Campagne Tropicana Resort.

“They have a tourism development fund; the one we have been trying to create in Nigeria over the years. The idea is to build a cosmopolitan African theme resort like La Campagne. They had over the years decided that these funds should be geared towards eco-tourism development, and I came at the right time because they had actually created a company to build such resort before I came in. They now decided that this company will partner La Campagne for them to realize the dream. The have World Bank support, and this is what we have been talking about as far as Nigeria is concerned. If we create it, international funding agencies would come. All we’ve got to do is to create it and put somebody credible there. Once we create the tourism development fund, you will be surprised.All kinds of agencies would come and inject funds into it. This is what they are doing here.

“They have funds, but they want it to be private sector driven, because they are not really concerned about building of today, but about sustenance of it, for it to be there 50, 100 years from now. So, they have also asked me to invite private sector funding to participate. So, we are going to invite different agencies and private individuals in Nigeria to come and partner us. They can buy a stake in the resort, if you have the money.

“For me, I build around natural attractions and look at proximity to my extended target market. In Lagos, we have tremendous access to domestic tourism because of our size. Because of the huge population of Lagos which is about 24 million people, we get a lot of domestic tourism business. For international tourism opportunities, you’ve got to move around. The way you see a Marriot Hotel chain having over five branches in the city of London alone, you see Protea with three branches each in Victoria Island and Ikoyi alone. The Nigerian brand, La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, needs to also move out and play in that market because we have a unique product of showcasing West Africa in a cosmopolitan manner.

“That way, we are exporting our culture. If you are the only one patronizing your culture, you are not really maximizing your advantages embedded in that culture. But when you get other people to patronize your culture, it gives an almost total monopoly, the way the Chinese people exported their food to the world.

“We need to explode. We have been imploding. We need to sell our culture all over the world. This is even more important, if we are mindful that we are 600 million. Our African brothers that have never been to the continent are looking for the opportunity to feel that culture. We need to take it to them in Brazil, Argentina, Burkina Faso , the Carribean, Americas and so on. Marriot has over 2000 branches all over the world. The brand is ready; it is taking us time to build the brand. Now that it is ready, we must take it out for the benefit of not only Nigeria, but the entire West Africa region.

“The more the people are interested in your culture, the bigger your market. That will create an opportunity for other people to create similar brands concentrating on their culture,“he said.

Although West African countries have always tilted along the language divide, with the new rapprochement through tourism, it is believed that this would help the quest for regional integration a reality.

Print Friendly

var addthis_config = {“data_track_clickback”:true,”data_track_addressbar”:true,”data_track_textcopy”:false,”ui_language”:”en”,”ui_atversion”:”300″,”ui_508_compliant”:true};
var addthis_product = ‘wpp-3.5.6′;


This post was originally published on this site

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Comments are closed.