Domestic tourism to the rescue

The just-concluded Lagos International Trade Fair was an opportunity for many corporate bodies and organisations to showcase Nigerian products.  Among the corporate bodies at the fair was the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) headed by Dr. Sally Mbanefo.  In order to showcase wholly Nigerian products that help to promote domestic tourism, NTDC gathered thousands of art works, artefacts, tangible and intangible heritages to drow the attention of the public to the potentials in the sector especially now that culture is being positioned to serve a bigger purpose in the national revenue.  In her ever boisterous response to the issues of domestic tourism and what it portends for the nation, she responded thus:  “Yes, our main mantra in the last three years or so, is to promote domestic tourism.  We believe at the NTDC that we cannot sell Nigeria to foreigners if we don’t start by selling it to Nigerians themselves.  To me, as the DG, this is one of the reasons I’ve been travelling round the country to showcase Nigerian local tourism.  I’ve been meeting with Tourism commissioners, the kings and leaders of different towns and villages to let them know the place of domestic tourism in our national life.  These people are the custodians of our cultural heritages, traditional institutions and customs”, she said.

For her, since these people are held in high esteem not just by their subjects, but by the society as a whole, it is important for NTDC to collaborate with them for more effective promotion of domestic tourism.  Mbanefo said further, “You see, tourism touches every chain.  So, we work with Immigration, we work with taxi drivers and Okada riders and so on.  This is so because a tourist may come and say, see I don’t want to use a plane or a car, I want to use keke.  For the person, it is fun, it is new to him or her.  We therefore tend to inculcate those sets of people into our programmes, in order to make it wholly domestic in outlook.  This is why we are involved more in local exhibitions where and when necessary.  Nigerians are about 160 million or thereabout.  So, we have a big market here at home.  So if we can sell Nigeria to Nigerians, you can see that Nigerians will be proud to patronise what is their own.”

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Source: The Nation Newspaper