Nigeria must improve its tourism offers to be competitive – Malaysian tour operator, Loong | The Guardian Nigeria News

Despite vast and rich potential, the task of making Nigeria a thriving tourist destination that attracts the right investment, market and tourism traffic has over the years been a challenge.

In a bid to change that narrative, indigenous travel company Gadeshire Travels and Tours Limited, founded by Olugbenga Adebayo, brought a group of five tourists and investors from Malaysia and Indonesia to Lagos last weekend.

The group consists of three men – Lee Sei Loong, Tjeng Tjin Tjung, and Wong Chong Wah – and two women – Gan Lay Hong and Ong Bie Lan – with Loong as the team leader.

The team was on a long-distance tour of Africa, visiting nine countries – Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria – on the final leg of the long distance tour.

The group spent one night and two days in Lagos where they visited tourist sites such as Nike Art Gallery, Freedom Park, Terra Kulture, Makoko, Lekki-Ikoyi Long Bridge. They also walked through Cathedral Church/Tinubu Square/Central Mosque, Lagos and Lekki Market and spent some time at Elegushi Beach.

Loong, who hails from Malaysian Harmony Tour and Travel, is a thoroughbred travel professional and experienced tour operator with a flair for exploring different cities to sample their culture and people, landscapes, history, arts and culture. crafts, their natural and cultural heritage, their infrastructure and facilities. , among others.

These are some of the things his band sought to explore on their first-ever trip to Nigeria, which he says is the start of a long love affair with Nigeria and a lasting relationship with Gahdeshire. Travels and Tours.

Loong, however, noted that the procedure to undertake the tour in Nigeria was quite difficult as obtaining visas was a major inconvenience. He said that caused many tourists, who had already signed up for the trip, to pull out.

He revealed that the first challenge was that before COVID-19, the Nigerian Embassy in Malaysia did not grant tourist visa but this has changed as they are now granting it since the trip returned but the process , he said, was painful.

Loong criticized the procedure requiring you to apply online and at the same time submit a paper application to the embassy, ​​which again involves the tedious process of filling out multiple documents.

He also noted the problem of delay from officials and the fact that there is no specific duration for the collection of the visa after submission, although he said that it took about 16 days for the visa is issued.

He lamented having had to go to the embassy and make phone calls on numerous occasions without a positive response, just as he denounced the lack of detailed information on the embassy’s website.

Furthermore, Loong decried the high visa fees, which he puts at $116, the equivalent of 450 Malaysian ringgits (MYR). This, he said, was very high while questioning the rationale for asking applicants to attach the credit card statement when paying online.

Loong said the news of insecurity in Nigeria was another challenge before embarking on the trip. He noted that traffic congestion and overcrowding are major challenges in Lagos. He lamented the long hours of going through immigration and waiting for luggage at the airport on arrival, urging the Nigerian government to remedy the situation.

While commending the sites visited as good and attractive, however, he said that Nigeria needs to significantly improve its tourism offerings, facilities and infrastructure if it is to compete as a tourist destination as some sites lack information. detailed information, promotional material and travel guides.

”The sites are good but there is no detailed information on the exhibited works. There should be information to tell visitors what the items are about and where in Nigeria they are from.

The international tourism expert, who revealed he will be visiting Nigeria again next year with another team, said one of the things he missed on the trip but was expecting looking forward is Eyo Masquerade. “I’ll be here next year hopefully and can’t wait to see Eyo’s Masquerade.”

In comparison to other African destinations, he rated countries like South Africa, Morocco and Algeria as better and well organized than Nigeria. ”They are more organized and they provide detailed information and directions to tourists. Even at the airport we had a big problem with immigration, but Ghana and South Africa were not like that. Nigeria does not seem to have any recognizable national landmark or symbol that sells the country globally and should be a source of traffic to the country. We also encountered difficulties in Burundi, Mali, Guinea and Guinea Conakry.”