Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nigerian tourism..

There's going to be a big spread on Nigeria in the UK Sunday Times tomorrow - those living in the UK please check out. I hope it doesn’t focus on the negative too much.

Meanwhile, we went to the Abuja craft fair this morning. It was ok, except the only people there were people selling stuff and the odd troupe of people (probably remnants of the march I saw on Thu). It’s a shame - Nigeria has huge tourist potential, but they don't seem to understand the basics here – marketing, publicity, presentation, attention to detail etc. Why not have a heritage day (public holiday) like they do in South Africa? That way, if you are going to have a celebration on a weekday, there'll be people to attend. Perhaps they could do this next year.

Meandering round the craft fair, I realised something else. We Westerners can't help ourselves and the way our desire is constructed - when we want to buy stuff (unless we're tacky people from Essex or equivalent) we want stuff that looks as authentic as possible. We want masks that look fetishistic and old (even if they are not). The trouble is, many Nigerians are in some way embarrassed of too many masks (and spiritual forces that may lurk). So the Western tourist doesn’t get to buy an old-looking mask, and no sale is made. Such a contrast to Ghana, where they know exactly what we want and sell it in droves.

The two other things tourists/Westerners want to buy are ceramics and textiles. There were one or two okayish pieces from the Bwari and Marabara (Kaduna) potteries, but they were way overpriced (its much cheaper to buy pieces at source). The same went for some interesting woven mats from Taraba state – N1500 for a 6ft by 3ft mat (which you could pick up for 1/3 the price in the village. We also picked up a brochure from Bauchi State – it looks like there is some beautiful scenery on the way into the State from Jos, as well as Yankari National Park, loads of elephants etc etc. The States need to employ people who understand the Western mindset in order to pull the tourists in and give them what they want. Nigeria should be able to attract more tourists than the East/South Africa safari crowd. I offer my services as a tourist consultant - but be warned: I'm not cheap..


Anonymous,  5:55 pm  

Start a tourism company, Jeremy. Sell the vision to the government so you get their support; source items that you know will sell...make the experience as authentic as possible...that's what the tourists will pay for...charge them in pounds...clean up - there's virtually no competition at the moment.

Sounds good to me..

Chxta 9:59 pm  

Will the Times story on Nigeria be on their website?

Anonymous,  7:46 pm  

Having been in the 'tourist' position in West Arfica from Ghana all the way west to Cameroon I would say that it is not your English speaking neighbours that you need to learn from in terms of Tourism.

Togo and Benin are good but Cameroon has got itself very organised. There are some truly lovely tourist places to stay there - hotels, restuarants, shops etc although they're still on the more expensive side like Nigerian. The fact they're getting organised is evident in the fact that both the Metro (London free newspaper) and Independent (London broadsheet) has done tourist spreads on Cameroon in the last 6 months!

Ghana is not as organised but its economy is certainly cheaper than any other I have experienced in the world. Their fabrics, masks, pottery, leather good are very good value and of a nice quality.

Personally, I wish Nigeria would err away from the developing the big chain hotels for tourists and build some nicer, smaller hotels with more a focus on your culture and country for people to tourists to stay at that are safe! The one thing I detest most about going on vacation is staying in western style hotels. I stayed in the 'Hilltop Hotel' in Accra and found this to be excellent, cheap, clean, functional and well located. Hopefully one day I'll get the impetus to contribute to tourism in Nigeria

Anonymous,  4:49 pm  

How can our ( Nigerian ) tourism develop when u,( Jeremy ) think a mat 0f N1500 is overpriced? N1500 is just like 6 pounds. I agree with u abt lack of details, and the holiday thing, but i think more importantly , we need poeple that will appreciate the work of our crafts men, by paying the worths, and not just estorting these people. That will go a long way in helping our tourism industry.

Anonymous,  7:17 pm  

the web site should be fully active i.e you should be putting lmages of the nations tourirt attraction pictures for more patronage.

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