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NTDC celebrates, honours Naija 7 Wonders expedition team •To facilitate FG, state governors’ promotion of selected sites •Stakeholders renew support for ppp
TOURISM stakeholders in Nigeria have described characterised the seven wonders of Nigeria as iconic attractions that will added to the value of the existing practical steps taken by the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Chief Olusegun Runsewe, to expand and promote the tourism frontiers of Nigeria for domestic and international patronage.
The expedition project, which narrowed top selected 55 tourism sites, monuments and festivals in Nigeria from 25 to 15 before presenting Seven to the world after a thorough voting exercise by the public, caught the rapt attention of tourists, visitors and investors, who are calling for the modality of marketing the new tourism products to the world.
The NTDC, which played along with the expedition team to actualise the project, did not only embrace it completely but also gave the Seven Wonders of Nigeria project a private sector touch.
Runsewe, as a way of appreciating the efforts of making Naija 7 a reality, put up at celebration where the expedition team were honoured with a medal, certificate of recognition and a seven wonders T-shirt branded in Nigeria national colour (green, white and green).
Speaking during the presentation of awards and certificates of recognition to the expedition team at Planet 1 Hotel, MaryLand, Ikeja, Lagos State, recently, Chief Runsewe noted that it was high time heroes and heroines of Nigeria were acknowledged for their contribution to national pride.
The NTDC boss pointed that journalists play a prominent role in development of a nation said they should also not be deny of different recognition and honours that go along with hard work.
Having seen the wonderful and brilliant job the seven wonders team have done, I must say I am happy to see that the project is a private sector initiative and we have made a promise to support any private sector that invent any credible project.
He added that the just-concluded search for the seven wonder of Nigeria is a great achievement for the tourism industry, which geared the NTDC to honour the expedition team for going extra miles to promote Nigeria in the comity of nations.
“What I really want to achieve is for governors to start inviting us to their state any time they want to make a tourism statement. NTDC is a government organ, even myself, I cannot remain in government forever, the private sector is a very crucial one because it has been proved globally that tourism is private sector driven.
“All our effort at the NTDC is to see that we have a credible private sector who will engage in genuine businesses for tourism industry that will generate revenue and create jobs for the people.
Runsewe eulogized the recipients admitting they have distinguished themselves by contributing their quota to the development of tourism in Nigeria stressing the need for all to work as a team to check the activities of fraudsters in the industry.
Dr. Newton Jibunoh, Founder, Fight Against Desert Encroachment
Today is a wonderful day not just for seven wonders alone but also for my pet project the DIDI Museum, and because the Naija 7 project is one of things I like to associate myself with and I hope and wish many Nigerians will be interested and continue to identify with a national project like this.
“There comes a time when we must all move away and stop associating with things that does not conform with our culture, things we see on Television that are alien and does not represent the people we are and stand for.
“It is project like this that we can be proud of, that we can be happy to showcase and left behind as a legacy for generations to come.
“What we should be thinking about now is how to create a platform that will inform, educate and orientate our younger generation on the norms, values and morals that were passed on to us by our forebears.
“We should be able to give them in the measures that we were given in order to preserve and protect our heritage and pride as people with genuine cultural identity in order to change the perception stereotyped by the western world.
“We have to go back to the adventurism of telling stories of our heritage, people, games, civilisation, among other important things that made Africa stand out.”
Onumg Nkereuwem, President, National Association of Tour Opeerators
It is a rare privilege to be at this epoch-making event. I want to say that I do not forget my friends and I like to keep company with the people who supported me.
Nkereuwem acknowledged and appreciated the impact of some stakeholders including the Publisher of ATQ magazine and organiser of Akwaaba Africa Travel Market (AfTM), Mr Ikechi Uko, Editor, Tribune Tourism Magazine, Wale Ojo-Lanre, Editor, The Sun People and Tourism, Frank Meke and Mrs Fatima Gabati of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)) who played a pivotal role in his business venture.
I thank the DG NTDC, who is a brother I met at a point in time in the tourism industry and for being a partner in the actualisation the Seven Wonders of Nigeria.
“At times, it may be difficult for people to share your vision with you. There is something about vision; any time you conceive any vision, believe in it, be focused and work out modalities towards actualising it. At the end, it will turn out to be successful.”
The NATOP president described as commendable, the platform created by Chief Runsewe to make those who were not part of the project from the beginning to join the team, thanking the NTDC boss for playing a fatherly role in the tourism industry.
“I also commend the journalists for their dedication to the project. It goes beyond just taking photographs and placing them on the pages of newspapers, but a sincere sacrifice and genuine interest to take tourism in Nigeria to the next level was what they demonstrated.
“No matter how brilliant your ideas are, if you do not have, someone to give you the right projection, the idea will not see the light of the day. It is not mere packaging; having the professional touch was the difference the journalists added to the Naija 7 expedition.”
Nkereuwem congratulated the coordinator of the Naija 7 for being instrumental and focused on managing the project and expedition team.
According to him, the dream would not only be a focal point but also a trend to expand and sustain the frontiers of the rich tourism potentials in the country.
“I sincerely thank God for the reality of this project because it is a private sector project and I also thank the NTDC for being a banner that gave the Naija 7 project a complete private sector approach.”
Ikechi Uko, Organiser, Akwaaba African Travel Market
I feel humbled and honoured to be here today because today is one of the days in the history of Nigeria that most of us seated here will live to remember.
“In 2005, I stumbled on the new Seven Wonders of the World; I have access to all the list of the new wonders of the world in 2007 when it was launched, and I found out that there was a bias against Africa; it struck me that it was only Africa that could tell their story better.
Among the wonders, there is the site (PETRA) that I have never heard about before and immediately it became a wonder, it recorded a surprising tourist patronage, which unfolded the secret of media hype and repackaging of a product(s).
“This incline gave me the drive to initiate the search for the seven things that you most see before you die and I did my research, consultations and concluded on ways to go about it before introducing it to the world.
There is more in repackaging our sites, telling our stories in different ways. Nobody can do it for us unless we do it ourselves and we have to start from somewhere, which is one of the aims of inventing the Naija 7 project.
Today is a great day for me, I feel humbled and honoured by this gathering. This landmark event would not have been possible without the support of Chief Olusegun Runsewe, who gave the go-ahead and the unflinching contributions of the expedition team who worked tirelessly exploring and reporting the event.
Idowu Sowunmi, Special Assistant (Media), to Gov of Ogun State
The truth is that we have the human and material potentials to turn around the tourism industry. We have all it takes but we need to work on coordination to get our priorities right. Whatever we are doing today is a call to service and a challenge to us because we have a very long way to go.
Recounting an encounter with the tourism authority in Ogun State, sowunmi disclosed that, looking at the pace of tourism promotion in the state, he told those in charge that they were lacking in promoting the potentials of tourism in Ogun State to the world.
“However, I have promised them that if they are willing, I will inform my colleagues in the tourism industry to help in the promotion and agenda setting for the sector to yield rapid result, and there are ongoing plan to do so.
On that premise, I started working on a tourism proposal. By the time I am through with it, I will invite you all to be part of the implementation.
I want to say that to market Nigeria to the world, we have to start from somewhere and Naija 7 wonders are on the right course. I also want to specially thank the NTDC boss for his efforts and support to see that tourism get to the height where everyone now see it as a potent economic factor to develop Nigeria.
He, however, commended Mr Ikechi Uko for conceptualising the Naija 7 for the prosperity of the tourism industry, thanking him for exposing him to the nitty gritty of the tourism sector.
Ayo Owoporoku, Director, Hotel Support Services Limited
I am very happy to be part of this development. Now, the public and private partnership would not have been successful because of government; I must congratulate Chief Runsewe for his doggedness and practical approach to the advancement of tourism in Nigeria. I believe that government, through Chief Runsewe, has advanced the course of tourism in Nigeria. He has done more than any of his predecessors in office.
“I pray and hope that whoever succeeds him will take a cue from his legacy and continue with the tempo to have a continual and steady development in the tourism industry.
“I am very grateful to him and for the support given to this project and the coordinator. In addition, the red carpet reception accorded to us during our tour of different states for the Naija 7 wonder expedition would not have been possible without the unalloyed support and approval of the NTDC boss.
“I must commend the creativities of the expedition (journalists) team, especially Mr Ikechi Uko, who conceptualised the idea of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria. We owe everything to him for being here and I must say without his ingenuity to promote tourism we would not be celebrating here today.
More importantly, I want to commend the interdependence of our human spirit. Ikechi Uko would not have done this all alone without the support of all the expedition team gathered here today. I also want to emphasize the power of the media; without the support of the journalists and the powers that were behind this project, it would not have succeeded.
“I recal some of the expeditions we took on the verge of exploring the wonders of nature and I saw the way most journalists were risking their lives; how they earnestly positioned themselves on edges of boats and canoes just to catch a vivid shot of the activities to aid the reportage of the sites visited.
“I must commend their efforts because the way they went about the whole thing was as if they were going to be given millions of dollars and without what they did, they would not have captured the event vividly.
Wale Ojo-Lanre, Editor,
Tribune Tourism Magazine
Specially, I want to recognise Mr Ikechi Uko, the coordinator of the Seven Wonders of Nigeria, for his initiative and dedicated effort that he has made vis-a-vis the expedition team to achieve this laudable feat in tourism.
In addition, I want to congratulate, commend and thank the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Chairman of Remlords Tours and Car Hire Service and national president, Nigerian Association of Tour Operator (NATOP), Mr Onung Nkereuwem and Mr Ayo Olowoporoko of Hotel Support Service Limited for supporting Ikechi Uko and the Naija 7 project.
Ojo-Lanre urged journalists to swallow their pride, forget about personal animosity, embrace and support anyone that has surmounted the hurdles to invent or create a platform to practically promote and develop the tourism potentials in Nigeria.
We are not only celebrating a landmark in tourism history but we are also celebrating ourselves by inscribing our names in the sands of time for generation unborn to appreciate and carry on for prosperity.
Andrew Okungbuwa, Tourism Editor, The Guardian
We are not only celebrating the initiator of the Naija 7 alone but also celebrating ourselves for the concerted effort to actualise the Seven Wonders of Nigeria.
“I am also encouraging the Naija 7 expedition team to keep the vision alive and, most importantly, thanked Chief Olusegun Runsewe, who has the liberty to say no to the project, but who, for his practical commitment to tourism, gave the project total support, alongside a special thank you package for the Naija 7 team.
“We want to thank you for being there for us; we have just started the journey and we are yet to get to the destination. I want to assure you that we will keep on moving with the vision to take Nigeria to the desired height in tourism.
Member Vision 20 20 20
“With this practical feet recorded in the tourism industry through the seven wonders of Nigeria, the next thing on the agenda is for Nigeria to start thinking globally and acting locally in order to carry the people in the grassroots along.
“A day like this would not have come if we do not have a DG if NTDC who share the vision of the private sector and also create an enabling environment for the actualization of a project solely conceptualized and implemented by stakeholders in the private sector
I am very happy today because the award presented to the expedition team is a sign of better things to come and a challenge for us to do more.
This has shown that whatever you are doing that is right keep up doing it because people are watching, even those you list expected. She encourages the DG NTDC not to be tired of charting a new course for tourism in Nigeria thereby enjoining the awardees to continue to be partners in progress.
While thanking the expedition team for making it to the venue, Babagbale added that she is fulfilled and happy for the feet Nigeria is making in promoting tourism.Share