On the 28th of February 2017, Social Media Week Lagos kicked off and we were on a panel that afternoon.
Social Media Week is a worldwide media platform where people share their innovations in different industries, highlighting how social media has helped to change the way businesses work.
Everyday, there are several one hour sessions throughout the day where people come in and listen to panelists talk about their businesses and the impact social media has had on it.
Registration is usually required to sit in on panels. This is usually free and you get a pass for the whole week. However if you choose to just walk in, you pay a fee of N1,000.
The topic for our panel was ‘Social Media and Nigerian Tourism : Bridging the Gap, Telling The stories’
Our panel consisted of
- Amarachi Ekekwe – Travel Enthusiast, Travel writer and curator of Travel With A Pen
- Funmilayo Ajala – A travel photographer & journalist
- Editi Effiong – CEO of Anakle
- Chidi Okere – Writer/Digital Communication expert
The panel was moderated by Chiamaka Obuekwe of Social Prefect.
I like the idea of Social Media Week because it’s a great chance to listen to people you’ve always admired from far. Always wondered how you would be able to meet with them and discuss the highs and lows of their business? This is the place to be as you get to ask various questions and still meet them after the panel.
The industries represented are also not limited. The business sizes represented also vary. At the recently concluded one, The Governor of Kaduna State sat on a panel showing you that you never know who you could bump into. It’s also a nice avenue for networking.
Our panel discussed Nigerian tourism and how social media has helped us to connect to different Nigerians and show them the tourism potentials in the country. We all spoke about our journey, difficulties, highlights and what we thought could make things better.
We were also able to learn from each other, encourage each other and also listen to some of the fears from our audience which included lack of tours in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, conquering the fear of ‘ojuju calabar’ grabbing us during our recently concluded camping trip/in general and more.
We all had to answer the same questions before taking more from the audience. We were sent the questions so we could prepare. You can find what I was going to say below before I got a bit of stage fright and just winged it. 🙂
1a. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your journey with Nigerian travel and tourism. Why did you start?, When did you start? and mention some of the places you have been to. (This is where the pictures will be displayed)
My name is ‘Lola Daniyan and I am the founder of Unravelling Nigeria. I started Unravelling Nigeria 3 years ago because I saw the need to tell the Nigerian tourism story. I found it odd that despite all the tourist attractions in the country, we weren’t taking advantage of it. We initially started out as just a website with social media platforms where we wrote about all things tourism but have evolved since then into a company that combines every aspect of tourism into one body. We do not only write on tourism now but organize tours, promote culture and also consult.
We’ve been to every state in South West Nigeria (Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti), Akwa Ibom, Kogi, Kwara, Abuja and Kaduna.
b. Also tell us about your platform, how has your platform helped people, tourism wise.
Like we stated earlier, Unravelling Nigeria is about everything relating to Nigerian tourism. For us tourism isn’t just about about travelling to different tourist attractions and taking pictures, it is about immersing yourself in the culture too. Tourism is so much bigger than what we think it is and this is what we try to show. It is about culture, food, the books, the language, the way of life of those people, accommodation etc. The tourist attractions are just the icing on the cake and they are usually glorious. For instance you can’t go to Ekiti State and no try their pounded yam, after all they’re famous for it.
Our platform has helped to show a different side of the country and the beauty that is hidden within it. We try to create experiences that show our clients that there’s a certain joy that comes with travelling around Nigeria. We have also helped to dispel rumors on how people in certain places are perceived through the guest writers we have on our site.
We are especially proud to have helped a British couple make their dreams of holidaying in Nigeria by organizing a tour of South West Nigeria which in turn helped to bring in other opportunities for us.
2. We live in a fast-paced internet world, everyone is consuming content online and on social media like never before. Do you think Social media has helped to bridge the tourism gap in Nigeria? and how?
Yes it has. To answer this answer as quickly and simply as possible, how else would I have shown off Nigeria’s beauty to a vast amount of people at the same time if not for social media? My company is run on the engine that is called social media and we do not take that for granted.
3. Compared to other African countries like Kenya, South Africa, Seychelles, Tanzania, Senegal, even Ghana, etc, Nigerian tourism does not contribute much to the GDP. What are the challenges facing tourism in Nigeria and how do you think they can be solved?
4 things in my opinion
Transportation – We don’t have good transport networks that can ease transportation. That needs to be changed as it’ll greatly ease transport cost to travel within the country and the number of hours spent reaching these places.
Information – There’s not a lot of information on our tourism that is easily available which is what we’re trying to change. One cannot easily find details in terms of price, location, facilities available etc on all the tourist attractions in the country. A website needs to be created where all these things can be found. For instance Britain has a dedicated website for all visitors wishing to indulge in tourism. However in the interim, visit our site for all the info you might need.
Infrastructure – It’s one thing to know about the attractions, it’s another thing for infrastructure to be put in place. Why doesn’t Idanre Hills have functional chalets where guests can stay in when they visit? Why is Gashaka Gumpti National Park in Taraba State just lying down untapped? Why isn’t there govt presence at Ado Awaye Mountain or even a basic signboard?
The government – There need to wake up and understand what tourism could do for them if properly harnessed. At the end of the day we can sit here and debate on the things we need to put in place but if the government doesn’t encourage it, what can we do?
4. Everyone needs to play a role for tourism in Nigeria to grow. The government, the private sector/ travel and tourism agencies and companies and individuals. What role do you think each one should play?
The govt – provide the basics (good roads, electricity etc). The govt gets a lot of international visitors. Nothing stops them from organizing tours for these visitors to promote the country. I mean if I traveled to a country as a guest of the minister or governor, I am 99.9% sure there would be some sort of tour on the books for me. Why can’t the same be done here?
Private sector/tourism agencies/companies – continue to tell the Nigerian tourism story in an attractive way. Like I said with the govt, Access Bank recently had their marathon. It had visitors from different countries, why weren’t they encouraged to come in early and then taken on a short tour to certain places. These things are really as easy as abc.
Individuals – Take an interest in your country and the sites it has to offer. At the end of the day, forex isn’t smiling.
I also got the opportunity to meet with quite a bit of people who follow us on social media. It’s always great to put a face to people who relate with you on these platforms.
It was a memorable experience and I’m definitely looking forward to next year.