With Virtual Reality (VR), you can experience attractions from anywhere in the world. These VR headsets offer near-magic. Yes, put them on like goggles; the next thing is that you will see yourself in a beautiful attraction in Nigeria. And guess what? It’s in 3D! Omolola Itayemi writes about the advent of Virtual Reality (VR) in Nigerian tourism
While virtual tourism won’t fully replace in-person visits any time soon, it sure will add value to destinations especially when security and infrastructure can be a snag. Little wonder, stakeholders of the tourism industry and tourism enthusiasts could not hide their excitement at the recent launch of virtual tourism in Lagos, Nigeria.
No more dreams of what destinations in Nigeria look like, we all know there’s a limit to what those glossy pictures and videos can give us but if the experience of being there is part of an attraction, VR is best at conveying that, much better than still photos or promotional videos. And the experience can be enhanced even further by adding voiceovers, soundtracks, motion transitions and other rich media features.
Ironically, even when VR is so good and we fear viewers may no longer feel the need to visit in person, it has been ascertained that it only serves to whet the appetite more, attracting more customers.
On 15th of February, 2018, Virtual Tourism was launched in Lagos by Steve Ayorinde, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture. Other dignitaries include Annette Ibe, Regional director, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) representing DG, NTDC; Ogun State Commissioner of Culture & Tourism, Muyiwa Oladapo; Prince Yemisi Shyllon, special adviser to Lagos state Governor; Otunba Ayo Olumoko, Vice President, South West, FTAN; Ngozi Ngoka, Vice President, south East, FTAN. They were not only present at this epic but they all pledged to support this movement to the best of their ability.
Ibe, one of the first speakers harped on the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, thereby paying homage to TIDA’s innovative idea of virtual tourism. She explained how Tour Nigeria, an NTDC initiative that promotes domestic tourism in Nigeria, was paving the way for developing the tourism industry.
Events like this are usually the springboard of what to come in the industry, so it came as little or no surprise when Ayorinde mentioned that Lagos State would inaugurate its first Tourism calendar: “This is the first of its kind; the calendar will show plans, venues and dates of festivals, carnivals and conferences. It will also provide guides on how tourists, visitors and the public can enjoy such events.”
The commissioner said the idea behind the calendar was borne out of the need to encourage the development of tourism potential of the nation.
Oladipo, emphasised the need for the government to embrace tourism. If the tourism potentials were adequately harnessed, the revenue generation of the country would be drastically improved on, saying, the introduction of tourist visas to visitors, as done in countries like Kenya, Spain and India, would go a long way at creating employment opportunities, thereby improving the economy of the country. “Tourism will be the next best thing in Nigeria in 10 years to come and I am happy the organisers of TIDA have keyed into it. We have seen this and keyed into it with the ongoing revamp of key sites and also constantly improving on one of our key products; African Drum Festival holding in April in Abeokuta, Ogun. The drum is very essential in every stage of our lives, and at every occasion or festival the sound of the drum is heard and to celebrate this heritage, we came up with the Annual African Drum Festival in Ogun. I am using this opportunity to invite you all.”
Prince Yemisi Shyllon, an art curator and tourism expert said the need for tolerance and acceptance of our different cultures would further enhance tourism.
The convener of the TIDA Conference and CEO of Skyview Communications, Femi Lawson, believes that Nigeria’s tourist sites have been under-served for decades and that the time is ripe for the country to take its rightful place in the committee of tourism-heavy nations.
“TIDA intends to bring stakeholders, young entrepreneurs and representatives of government together to discuss the opportunities that exist in the Nigerian tourism industry and how we can take advantage of it to transform the economy of the country and its negative image. Virtual Tourism is a product, a recording of all Nigerian tourist destinations in a video on VR. It means that when we attend exhibitions outside the country, if a prospective tourist can share where s/he wishes to go in Nigeria, I can give him/her a VR to watch and experience Nigeria. What that will do is to pique people’s interest so much that they want to come to Nigeria.”
So much was on the plate at the launch – from introduction of tourism entrepreneur development academy (TEDC) to Tourism and Insurance to Tourist Loan Faculty with speakers giving robust points to boot.
Omooba Adekunle Adeyemo the Executive Assistant to the founder of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort presented the paper on behalf of Mr. Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, the Chairman of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, who said: “Nigeria is the greatest country in the world in terms of tourism with different types of tourism. We have religious tourism, cultural tourism, educational tourism, sport tourism, music tourism, agricultural tourism, and heritage tourism amongst others. The Ikogosi Warm Springs in Ekiti is the only warm spring in the world. All the others are Geysers.
I am really excited about the launch of Virtual Tourism and a Tourism Academy in Nigeria.TIDA was organized by Skyview Communications in partnership with Fidol Trips & Travel Services, Travel Next Door, Avantgarde Tours and KALO Africa.
This shows how collaboration is one of the keys to helping the tourism industry in Nigeria grow. Research has shown that 20 percent of Nigerians have time and money to go on holidays/tours, 30 percent do not have time, but they have the funds, 50 percent have no funds and have no time. Now you see why Virtual Tourism couldn’t have come at a better time.