Reporting tourism activities, particularly government-related initiatives, could sometimes be a herculean task. The process could be likened to a banana peel, as any independent and objective coverage might attract sanctions and, in some extreme cases, the reporter might hounded into prison.
On this beat, I have had my share of bruises and government official blacklistings to invitations and other such like. Sadly, some our colleagues became willing catalysts to this ugly development, yet one has no choice but to become hardened to the realities of Judas in our midst.
On the other land, there are also colleagues of goodwill in government circles who still believe the media is critical to public appreciation of government efforts or shortcomings, as the case maybe. I hold the view that whatever will sustain the interest and support of every Nigerian to tourism as a serious business must enjoy media attention and prayers.
To focus on this discourse today, Monday this week marked the end of unofficial boycott by organised tourism of government tourism activities through the ministry of culture and tourism media after the federal government’s tourism summit in Abuja in 2016. The relationship between the ministry and the tourism press thawed and, to an extent, became bitter.
The highly respected tourism journalists kept a clear distance from the ministry’s tourism-related activities but held none of its members captive to fears of banishment or sanctions. It was a decision taken by all concerned to protect the tourism image of Nigeria and to show solidarity to a sector deprived of the best brains and effective funding.
To his credit, Tourism Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, did not only bring cold water to douse the fire and seeming disconnect from his ministry’s activities and the tourism media, he also volunteered to mediate in the show of power between the tourism media and some non-performing tourism agencies under the ministry.
Even though the amiable minister confessed that some of our reports during the “cold war” were bitter pills to swallow and “very hurtful,” I could perceive that Alhaji Lai Mohammed hid no lie under the curve on this truce initiative. Indeed, it was a sober moment for all of us who were privileged to participate in this unconventional truce to the true revival of our tourism efforts both at the government and private sector levels.
Significantly, there were true lessons one would not share here but again the reality that Nigeria is bigger than all of us cannot be erased by emotions or sentiment of how or who persecuted each other. In reporting tourism in Nigeria, there are periods to which offences, critical or “hurtful” appraisals of government tourism activities cannot escape tourism media attention. These are times when wisdom counts and not a period to divide and rule.
Segun Adeyemi, consummate journalist and aide to Lai Mohammed, remains of veritable bridge to this understanding and the rekindling of progressive relationship that may power fresh and enduring narratives of Tourism Nigeria under this administration and under the watch of Lai Mohammed.
Come June,, Nigeria will play host to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Africa Commission meeting, with focal point on tourism statistics and data collection which will aid infrastructural development and tourism facilities management.
As usual, Lagos State government will proudly showcase Eko Atlantic City, one of the biggest smart city projections in Africa and a tourism boom town. To the invited and visiting 51 African member nations, Eko Atlantic will undergo a tourism technical appraisal and may become the soul of Nigeria’s tourism offerings, maybe, just maybe.
In all, the truce has opened a floodgate of information that will bring Nigerians closer to the minister’s avowed effort to bring all the 36 states of Nigeria into one of the biggest, unbelievable tourism pot offering diverse but unique tourism takeaways in culture, fashion, dance and gastronomic boom ever seen in Africa.