My 2016 travel review and how Nigerians are looking inward
The end of 2016 was a few weeks ago and with last year’s tumultuous economy, international travel saw a massive decline in consumer travel spending. Local air travel experienced a gaping hole from the large exit of the expatriates that relied heavily on its services. Too few Nigerians consider Nigeria a local tourist destination and even less are willing to expend the spare change in pocket to experience the improperly structured local tourism market.
Something tells me that this 2017 might sing a much better tune for local tourism in terms of demand. Here are my reasons why:
In the past six months, I have seen more social media posts of people visiting Olumo Rock than ever in my life. While I may not have been overly attuned to the social media trends in the past years, a quick check on #OlumoRock shows about 3,000 lifetime posts on instagram and 10 percent of it were just added since October. The numbers are small, but that shows some serious growth. #TravelNigeria is becoming less of an activity for the brave soul and more so for the curious millennial.
In the past couple of months, I have met a good number of young people that are focused on showcasing Nigeria as a tourist destination despite the lagging support from the private and local infrastructures. That takes a lot of passion, guts, and serious dedication. Their mentality really is, ’if I was able to have a safe and fabulous experience traveling in similar terrains outside of Nigeria, then I should be able to get something similar within my home. If the government does not see the opportunity of growth within this industry, I will have to make them see it and help Nigeria hone its natural talents’. In their passion for Nigeria, many have been able to drum up a healthy profitable business of taking the curious minded Nigerians to visit touristy locations that they would not have been brave enough to visit on their own. Anyone looking to travel affordably and safely within Nigeria can now easily snatch up a healthy variety of tour options almost every other weekend.
Brilliant event planners for village destination weddings are now including social tourist excursions for the curious minded wedding guests. Gone are the days of traveling to the village for a wedding and spending all the spare time just lounging in the hotel.
Travelling within Nigeria is becoming a ’cool’ activity and most importantly, a more affordable option for those like me who love going off to take on new adventures. Now that the cost of just international flight surpasses the cost of what flight plus accommodation, extracurricular activities and shopping used to go for, many like me are looking inward for substitutes to feed our roaming needs.
Luckily for me, I decided to focus on traveling outside Africa in the past years before working my way through Nigeria in 2016. Perfect timing with the way our local currency has been dealing us!
My first travel in 2016 was a road trip with friends to Ibadan for two nights and a day trip to Olumirin waterfalls in Erin Ijesha. Erin Ijesha was a very healthy hike to climb in order to experience the beautiful waterfall and combined with a great group of friends to travel with, it was a stellar way to start my travel through Nigeria.
I broke off the trail of my ’travel in Nigeria’ plans with a 32 days backpacking trip through Japan in March – April at a time where the exchange rate was just starting to seriously show that it was not in the mood for the Nigerian currency at all.
After this trip, I flew to the southeastern parts of Nigeria, Enugu and Abia state to support a friend and also seized the opportunity to explore a bit of the rich Igbo food culture. I still cannot believe how much delicious food I worked my way through within 24 hours.
Another month down the line, my feet got itchy again and it was time to fly somewhere very new to me, a weekend stay in Abuja to finally see the impressive and quiet capital of Nigeria. I went during the month of Ramadan, and because Abuja is a Muslim state, the normally quiet state was even more subdued than normal and I did not get to properly experience it, as I would have loved. Abuja requires a do-over.
A trip to Ireland for an epic road trip made its into my travel plans for the summer, before ending my year of travel with a long weekend road trip from Lagos to Anambra.
Anambra was surprising in its array of such rich food culture, music, traditions, and very welcoming people. I found myself dragging my feet on the day of departure and I am already planning for another visit in 2017.
Even without traveling out of Lagos, there were many random adventures my friends and I went off to explore. From seeing how the popular Agege bread is made, to art shows displaying Nigeria’s underexplored food and artistic culture, to visiting the local railway museum, to eating at the plethora of food festivals.
Nigeria has a whole lot to offer in terms of cultural travel and with better tourism management, we could become THE cultural tourist destination of Africa. I am looking forward to more discoveries in 2017. Hoping you are too.
VIDEO – 2016 TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS
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