Mark More is a tourism expert and chief executive officer of Motley Travels & Logistics Ltd, a tour agency in Nigeria. In this chat with JERRY EMMANSON, he speaks extensively on the challenges and successes since he came into the industry and plans to drive the sector forward.
About Tourism in Nigeria
Tourism in Nigeria is gradually coming up and people are beginning to look inward especially with the high and unfriendly foreign exchange rates. People take a lot of fancy exploring outside the shores of Nigeria to other countries for the same thing that could be found in Nigeria – though not in very good state. I believe that it takes us to patronise our tourist destinations to bring about development of these destinations. In the last few years, we have seen inspiring of young private entrepreneurs who engage in exploring the beauty of Nigeria with friends. At the moment, we can say many still run this tour packages as fun and just sightseeing.
However, there’s need to operate these tour packages as business. Structures need to be put in place, as this would guarantee seriousness towards the drive to diversifying the economy. Beyond taking it seriously as a business, consistency is key. Many people just want to start up and begin to make profits overnight forgetting that confidence; trust must be built over time. Over the years, Motley has been consistent in providing holiday experience to people across the country as well as a couple of foreigners who appreciate what is abounding in the country.
Challenges and Success
Well, so far I will say there’s been success in what we have been doing so far especially in the areas of awareness, confidence and creating memories that last a long time in the minds of the tourists. We have moved tourists in their thousands across the length and breadth of the country for various tour experiences and I make bold to say that everyone who has experienced Motley has a great story to tell.
On some occasions, tourists have had to propose to their loved ones, wedding anniversaries celebrated on our tours, honeymoon package and lots more experiences. We have also had to build good relationships with these destinations, as we have become regular callers during and outside major holidays in the country. These successes, of course didn’t come on a bed of roses, there have been tremendous challenges and of course, these challenges are still there but we are trying to surmount them with each passing experience.
Most of these destinations need some kind of upgrade to make the experience even more memorable.
Government needs to take tourism out of the lips and do something concrete to attract the right investment to achieve development.
Basic commitment needs to be shown on the side of government before major foreign investors can come in. However, this is not to say we can’t have investors come into the scene at the moment. We are well-positioned with the requisite experience and data analysis to handle quick intervention in developing these destinations. Our goal is to manage destinations and all we have done have been in preparation to taking up that role when the opportunity arises.
So generally, there’s progress though at snail speed but we certainly are getting there in Nigeria.
Support From Government
Talking about support from government, well the best I can point to is the recognition and endorsement given to Motley by the National assembly – Committee on Culture and tourism, federal house of representatives. This has also gone a long way to encourage us to keep the flag flying. Aside that, we have been doing what we could privately to place domestic tourism on the map and make Nigerians and visitors alike have a great time within. Majorly, we have good patronage from Nigerians as we have packages to meet the various needs of different classes. Take for example, during summer, people think about travelling out of the country but
we came up with a summer package where people need not go out but enjoy their summer holidays in Nigeria. This has recorded tourists joining from Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Owerri and other parts of the country. We believe that the numbers would increase over time and we have continued to put ourselves out there for both tourists and investors alike to see that there’s need to form good and workable alliances. For example, transportation takes a chunk of the business, if we had the right partnership in terms of lease on the buses, we can reduce these costs and scale more.
Plans To Drive Tourism In Nigeria
As far as we can go to make tourism the next big thing in Nigeria. We need more people to come into the fray to make it count. Who says Nigeria doesn’t have the potential to surpass Dubai and other places that our people run to? We sure do have the capacity in this country and until we get there, there’s no resting.
Destinations Covered And Future Plans
We have covered quite a number of destinations including Yankari Games Reserve, Obudu Mountain
Resort, Idanre hills, Ikogosi warm spring, Okomu national Park, Afi mountains, Kajuru Castle, Arewa
House, Gurara waterfalls, Farin Ruwa waterfall, Zuma Resort, Gberefu island, Ife Grand resort, Mount Patti, The Palazzo amongst others.
In the coming year, we are looking at curating the National parks in Nigeria as a holiday destination as well as some private destinations and we expect Nigerians to have an array of options to choose from and plan for their holidays! As a matter of fact, we document all our trips and put them out there on our social media handles. We implore Nigerians to explore Nigeria and discover the beauty therein.