A few days back, I met with Mr George, who recently toured Nigeria and we had a chat where he revealed some amazing things about Nigeria to me
Hello sir you are welcome to “Diary of a Nigerian traveller. Can we meet you?
My name is Lucky Onoriode George, 2006 Winner of the Prestigious European Commission Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalists Reporting Human Rights and Democracy. I am the publisher of African Travel Times Magazine, a monthly travel and tourism publication since 2011. [www.africantraveltimes.com].
Currently, I am also the Executive Director of African Travel Commission [ATC], [www.africantravelcommission.org], a pan African Non- Profit Organisation based in Accra, Ghana.
You recently did a tour of about 10 states. Why did you embark on this trip?
It was actually 12 states, the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] inclusive. In the last 20 years of my life, I have always been on the road and travelling is not just a hobby, but my work. After almost a full year lockdown alone at home in Lagos, I took advantage of the relaxation on COVID-19 protocols to hit the road since I was unable to travel for work within and outside Nigeria.
Going on the trip was the only way of freeing myself from the boredom of home alone. With my cameraman, I was able to document all my movements which one day will be made into a full documentary.
What’s your experience in travelling to these states and what did you also learn?
It was a memorable trip across these selected states. I took into account my security and that of my cameraman who accompanied me on the trip and we were able to relive those great old memories of good old days Nigeria.
The most important takeaway from the trip was experiencing how bad our roads are and difficult, complicated road trips can be in Nigeria.
As a travel journalist of over 20 years in Nigeria, nothing was really new because most of our attractions still remain largely underdeveloped and the absence of basic infrastructure across the areas visited was sincerely heartbroken.
What is the highlight of your trip?
The highlight of the trip was despite the hardship and poor infrastructure in virtually in all the towns and villages that we travel through, people still smile and look happy; which to me was incredible.
You have travelled widely within and outside Nigeria, why do you think Nigerians don’t go on holidays within the country?
One of the major reasons why Nigerians don’t travel locally is because the majority of us are poor and do not have disposable income to embark on such leisure trips as it’s done in the West.
Many families prioritised issues, such as school fees, providing basic things that matter to them; instead of embarking on leisure trips.
Aside from the aforementioned, bad roads, insecurity and cost are major factors.
Do you think Nigeria can be marketed as a tourist destination or how can Nigeria be marketed as a tourist destination?
Sadly, the travel industry globally is very competitive and therefore destinations or countries with the best packages and the best rates are usually very attractive to visitors/travellers all over the world.
Regards Nigeria, our products are too rudimentary and largely unattractive for locals, much more foreigners. That is the level we are at at the moment.
However, with the right investment and suitable environment, we can be like Kenya, South Africa and even Senegal in a few years.
At the moment, Nigeria remains largely a tourist generating market for other destinations.
Nigeria is recently trying to float a National carrier, How will that help our tourism in Nigeria
Without a doubt, a national carrier is an added advantage, making your country or destination more accessible to all would-be tourists. Besides, your destination fare will also surely be very competitive.