“We cannot sell Nigeria if Nigerians continue to share only negative views about the country. Only a bastard speaks bad of his father!” Quite blunt, isn’t it?

Mr Bankole Bernard is a major player in Nigeria’s tourism industry and he must know a lot about what it means to protect an image.

He made that statement to Bounce News after his presentation at Tech Plus 2017 during the session tagged ‘Tech Meets Tourism’.

The role of social media in tourism came to the fore during his presentation and he was quick to advise Nigerians to be more cautious in their online behavior.

“The moment you mention northern Nigeria, the first thing that comes out is Boko Haram. It’s sad because that is what we have been made to understand… but there hasn’t been any violent incident in Jos in the last two years.

“Nobody has come out to tell us about that but if there’s an incident today, it will make CNN and everyone will be talking about it,” he said.

Tech Meets Tourism

In spite of the perceived misuse of social media, the National President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents, still believes technology is one of the best things happening to tourism in Nigeria.

Citing examples from different countries, he highlighted how the internet makes it easier to make the rest of the world know about the tourism facilities and patronize them.

He, however, highlighted the need to better sell domestic tourism to Nigerians first to build the holiday culture without necessarily putting heavy financial burdens on the people.

For this he also called out the media to promote local tourism sites.

“The first television station in Africa is here in Nigeria; in Ibadan, Oyo state and nobody talks about it,” he lamented, adding that about 80,000 to 120,000 Nigerians visit South Africa every year.

Domestic Tourism

With the emergence of many tourism agencies, making use of the internet to sell affordable domestic holiday packages to Nigerians, he believes the time has come for Nigerians to know better about their country.

In any case, how will you sell your country to the world when you do not know enough or have not seen enough about the country?

He values patriotism but interestingly, his call is not just for the sake of patriotism. He stated confidently that Nigerian tourism sites are indeed value for money and better than some of the places Nigerians visit abroad.

Mr Bernard admits there are safety and security issues related to local travel but he is not one to put the blame for everything going wrong on government.

For him government can only make policies but only the people can drive the industry, especially the media, noting that most of Nigeria’s tourist sites are not threatened by insecurity and bad roads.

He would not spare government from some truth though. “While Nigeria slept, calling itself 'giant of Africa' Ghana made its airport the hub for West Africa,” wondering why government would not learn from fellow African countries like Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

And to the rest of Africa, doing it right or doing it wrong, he said: “The rest of the world is looking at Africa's tourism potential and we need to start believing in ourselves.”