By Taiye Olayemi
A team of Malaysian and Indonesian tourists on Tuesday visited tourism sites within Lagos to further market the destinations to intending tourists in their countries and attract investors.
The tourists, who had visited several African countries, plan to also visit Ghana and Liberia for same purposes soon.
Some of the destinations visited in Lagos are Terra Kulture, Nike Art Gallery, Lekki Conservation Centre, Freedom Park, National Museum and Makoko Seafood Market.
The tourists are Gan Hong, Lee Sei Loong, Wong Chong Wah from Malaysia; as well as Ong Bie Lian and Tjung Tjeng Tjin from Indonesia.
The head of the team, Lee Loong from Malaysia, said Nigeria was chosen as a place to visit because it was known as the most famous African country.
Loong described Nigeria as a beautiful country, rich in culture and history.
He said his visit to the country had partially changed his negative impression about the country as a destination without security, overcrowded and with the problem of traffic congestion.
He said that comparing Nigeria with countries across the world, it should not be seen as overcrowded and insecure.
” Nigeria is truly a place to be, but the country must work on rebranding its tourism sites.
“Adequate information needs to be provided at each tourism destination to further educate visiting tourists,” he said.
•Some of the tourists beside late General Muritala Mohammed’s car at the National Museum, Onikan
Loong shared his challenges visiting Nigeria, citing cumbersome process in acquiring Nigerian Visa, and at a high cost.
According to him, Nigerian visa was the most expensive to acquire, compared to other countries he had visited.
“It was such a difficult task for us to get our visas to come here; Nigeria needs to be more organised, good infrastructure should be put in place at tourism destinations.
” I look forward to coming back soon to witness the Eyo festival,” he said.
He said the team’s visit was taking it to nine African countries — Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Loong said that at the end of the visits, they would have been knowledgeable enough to sell any destination in those countries to intending tourists across the globe.
Mr Olugbenga Adebayo, Managing Director, Gadeshire Travels and Tours, who packaged the tour, revealed the challenges encountered.
Adebayo said he experienced problems with visa procurement for the tourists and avoidable protocols at various tourist destinations.
He advised that there should be more friendly policies, to encourage tour operators in marketing Nigeria as a tourism destination.
Adebiyi said there was also a need for the people at the local level to be educated on the essence of showing hospitality to tourists.