Again. Today, I might have been at Chain Reaction, which from the reports sounds exactly like the event I would have wanted to put together if I had the resources. However, I went back to World Travel Market at the Excel for more conversations and the like.
I walked the world today (and my feet feel accordingly). Starting with North America, through Africa and the Arab countries, arriving on time for my appointment with the German marketing person who wasn’t there, walking all over South-East Asia and India.
Here I spent quite some time having great conversations about Ayurveda and niche holistic health tourism with people from Kerala, and about the Kumbh Mela at the beginning of next year. The Kumbh Mela is the greatest religious gathering, actually the biggest gathering of any kind in the world, which happens roughly every 12 years, and the last one had 60 million people…
Then I went to West Bengal – or so I thought, because the people I ended up talking to were from Isango and the other one worked for a provider of walking tours and is working on a start-up to provide walking tours of Calcutta (not for the faint of heart, I’m sure!) We did have a chat about West Bengal tourism as well. And I got a cute leather purse from a lady who does Tiger safaris there.
West Bengal, again, is close to my heart because I spent a good few weeks there the year before my son was born, and made an effort to learn the language including the script, which even got me an assignment much later. But I digress!
It was time to go back to Africa! The Nigerian party had well and truly started by the time I got there. Live music and nobody was dancing? I arrived, greeted my old friend Tunji Sotimirin, and ended up starting off the general dancing. They like to embarrass me…
It was all good fun though. Yesterday I spoke to Otunba Runsewe and he didn’t know me from Adam, today he saw me hug Tunji and dragged on the dancefloor so he now knows I wasn’t kidding about knowing what I’m taking about when it comes to Nigerian culture and music.
One of the conversations came up when I picked up a map of Lokoja and exclaimed Tourism? But they are not ready! Lokoja is at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers and has enormous natural beauty. But there are no beauty spots to actually enjoy the riverbanks, no signage to the mountain roads to view the confluence from above, etc…
My point re tourism is always, whoever I’m talking to, find your unique offering and built a community around that. Of course people aren’t likely to travel to Nigeria for the natural beauty, the country has been spoilt by so much badly managed and badly maintained development. But people might go to Nigeria for its culture, music, tradition, if you can manage to save enough of it before it’s all gone. And I think they are becoming aware of this.
So the last person I spoke to was the Director General (they love the DG thing) of the Ogun State Tourist Board. Ogun State has a very progressive governor in Otunba Gbenga Daniel, and I think they can do well. This is a conversation that definitely will see some sort of continuation.