Moving from Nigeria’s sub-Saharan tropical weather to an almost freezing winter in faraway Berlin is something only first-time travellers will dare. Yet, the streets of Berlin witness more Africans, especially Nigerians, in the first week of March.
They were among the 10,086 exhibitors out of 110,000 trade visitors from 188 countries that presented their products and services in display halls at this year’s edition of International Tourism Exchange tagged ITB Berlin.
With over 160,000 square metres exhibition space, the event, which is the biggest travel expo in the world, provided ample space for every corporate and country participant to play, network and be abreast of the different tourism destinations and latest products and services in the sector on display.
For the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), leader of the Nigerian delegation to the event, participation at the world’s largest tourism expo is truly a ‘mission to conquer the world at Berlin’ and further sell ‘Destination Nigeria’, especially now that several questions are raised on safety and security in the country from abroad.
The branding started with colourful Nigerian stand at the African section of Hall 21 attracting early trade investors and exhibitors. But, as anticipated, the prevailing question by most of the early callers to the stand was how safe Nigeria is for investors and tourists in view of the increasing killings and kidnappings in the northern part of the country.
Of course, Olusegun Runsewe, director general, NTDC, had a herculean task defending the country. Citing instances of other countries in Africa that still woo tourists and investors despite even worse security challenge, the DG assured the visitors of safety and security of lives and property across the country, insisting that the Nigerian government was atop the situation as it is already tackling the challenges with some measures in place.
“Nigeria is an investors’ haven and it is safe. There are no cases of foreigners leaving their investment because of insecurity. The security issue is only limited to few states in the northern part of the country and the Federal Government is very serious and proactive in handling the situation,” Runsewe explained while beckoning even on potential tourists and investors to pay visit to the country.
For tourists who fell in love with ‘Destination Nigeria’ as presented by the Team Nigeria at the show, the apex tourism body guaranteed their safety and welfare, urging them to give the country a chance to change their perception with just one visit.
On a practical encounter, the visitors had a feel of Nigerian hospitality and cultural display at the Nigerian Day meant to attract more visitors to see the country in a better light. The celebration turned out a jamboree, celebrating the victory of the Super Eagles at the just concluded AFCON 2013 in South Africa.