I started my tourism promotion journey in my 20’s and I made all my mistakes and gained mastery over the years.
So I know the power of the youth in building tourism. For years I only had my peers to contend with. Sometime in 2010 I noticed a group of young men slowly organising themselves to visit destinations. I started liking their pictures on social media.
I come on then to facebook to look for the post by these young people. It was exciting seeing people do the things I once did in my early Years.
I launched the first Travel Magazine in West Africa while in my 20s. I organised the first Tourism Open House (a precursor to Akwaaba)in my 20s. I started the awards in my early 30s. I also started the Top100 series in my 30s.
So it was nice seeing younger people doing things.
In 2017 as NATOP the association for Tour Operators planned their Annual General Meeting(AGM), I suggested that we bring in these young tour operators into NATOP. It was vehemently opposed by some people who felt disturbed by the thought. The President of NATOP then Nkereuwem Onung of Remlords Tours approved and subsidized.
We organised the Youth Tourism forum at the NATOP AGM. The Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, The DG NTDC Folurunsho Coker and Former Governor of Cross River State attended. The opposition to the Youth Forum led to a conspiracy that almost collapsed NATOP.
I learnt my Lessons and based on advice by the Akwaaba Team we decided to domicile the Youth Forum in Akwaaba. So we launched the first Youth Tourism Conference at Akwaaba in 2017 at a huge Cost.
We had cancelled a sponsored event to accommodate the Youth Conference
. The success of that conference and the success Story of all the participants so far meant that we saw the future.
Even when I complain about the loss of income my concept team of Gbabo Laura Dein and Paul Kosarachi Ukachukwu made sure we included the Youth Session in any Plan.
They jokingly overruled the Boss. Oga it must hold oh. No wonder we held the youth event during Covid19 (Virtual).
After 2018 we decided we need to empower these youths by enhancing their CV.
We decided to dedicate the 2019 edition of the Tourism 100 Club to the Young Players. We helped form partnership between the Youth and through the Tourism 100 Club we linked them up to major players in the industry.
Along with what John Omololu Olumuyiwa has done with his Travelscope events Nigeria can boast of an emerging Corp of Virile and enterprising Youth in Tourism.
The down side is the problem of the youth. Lol, they declare themselves experts at any and everything. They always are the first to discover a waterfall that you have visited many times.
They know more about Brazil even when they haven’t read any book or travelled to Brazil. Some believe they are gurus at planning events when they have not Ssuccessfully done any. They become consultants and masterclass teachers just by listening to one speaker. They start scamming their mates and falsely positioning themselves as subject matter experts.
But that is normal. My daughter once told me she didn’t need to do first degree to earn a PHD because she is smart. Lol.
These are the fears adults had. They didnt want insults from upstarts who knew nothing. Fair enough the fears are real.
I can confirm I have felt the insolence but have a cosh to routinely deal with that. I keep records and frequently dish out penance to deserving ones but the experiment of working with the youth is very successful.
Each day I go to sleep happy that Nigeria will benefit from their energy. They have made domestic tourism in Nigeria a possibility.