In 2007, the World Travel and Tourism Council evaluated our tourism industry. They estimated it would bring in a revenue of over $1billion USD. Although we are not harnessing our tourism as much as we should, there are a lot of incentives that keep the industry going. Nigeria’s tourism appeal, despite all our challenges as a nation, is undeniable. Below are a four things we believe draw people to visit Nigeria every year.
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The Nigerian people are the biggest tourism asset we have. No matter where you find them in the world, they are a lively bunch. Now imagine a nation full of such lively, hardworking and fun-loving people. They treat foreigners with courtesy and will help total strangers if the need calls for it. It is a known fact that first-time visitors to Nigeria need a ‘Nigerian-connect’ to make the most of their trip. With a Nigerian friend as your tour guide, your visit to Nigeria is bound to be energetic and endearing.
One thing Nigeria has an abundance of besides people is natural attractions. Nigeria is blessed with so many untapped resources that it could be the world’s next best El Dorado; from Sahel and Sudan Savannah to the rainforests and mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta region.
Did you know the Niger Delta is home to 60% of Nigeria’s mangrove forests, which are the largest in Africa and third largest on earth? Nigeria has hills, rocks, mountains, waterfalls, rivers that are blue and brown, white sandy beaches and desert plains. We have turned some parts of the nation to conservation centres for preservation, while others are resorts for holiday troopers to enjoy. There is almost no part of Nigeria that doesn’t have a natural attraction to offer tourists.
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Nigeria is home to 7% of the earth’s total languages (well over 500 languages) spoken by about 250 ethnic groups. Each tribe comes with its own variation of culture that makes Nigeria one of the most diverse places on the planet. From the colourful festivals to Afrobeat, the wedding ceremonies to the culinary delights, Nigeria has so much to offer.
The Durbar festival is celebrated annually in many cities in Nigeria. Likewise, the Igwe Festival, the Argungu Fishing Festival, the Festival of Light, the Calabar Carnival, the Eyo Festival, the Osun Festival and the Yam Festival attract international tourists.
We have cultural heritages and historical ties to the story of slavery, colonisation, and religious differences. E.g. as far back as 500 BC – 200 AD, we had the Nok culture with its arts and civilisation. The 800-1000AD, 160km moat of Sungbo’s Eredo in present-day Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, is considered the largest single pre-colonial monument in Africa. All these add a bit of spice to the experience of being in Nigeria.
When tourists think of wildlife in Africa, Kenya and South Africa readily come to mind. But Nigeria has some amazing wildlife too. From antelopes, porcupines, Crocodiles, manatees to hippos, elephants, lions and varied bird species, we have so much to offer. For example, Sumu Wildlife Park is a place where zebras, giraffes, buffaloes and more roam free. It amazes even Nigerian tourists to have such within reach.
The Niger Delta (which is the second-largest delta on the planet), has the highest concentration of monotypic fish families in the world. Another wildlife appeal for Nigeria is migratory birds and sea creatures. In June this year, during the lockdown, a migrating pod of whales passed through the Lagos Coast. And every year, a flock of migrating birds migrate from Europe to Nigeria’s Gashaka Gumtin National Park. But most stunning are the rare Anambra Waxbill and Jos Plateau Indigo birds found only in Nigeria that draws in international bird watchers.
Furthermore, Nigeria is home to 4,715 different plant species. In addition to over 550 species of breeding birds and mammals, the country is one of the most ecologically vibrant places of the planet, according to the World Resources Institute.
The Guardian NG
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