“Not defining their USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and not understanding the target market are some of the challenges faced by hotel administrators in Nigeria’’ – Ijeoma Ugamah, General Manager, Maison Fahrenheit

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In this exclusive interview, Ijeoma Ugamah shares some insights on challenges faced by hotel administrators in Nigeria and some useful advice for students and upcoming hotel administrators in the hospitality sector.

Tell us a little about yourself, as it relates to your function in Maison Fahrenheit?

My name is Ijeoma Ugamah  and  I am  the General Manager  of  Maison Fahrenheit Hotel. Being the general manager means I oversee the day to day running of activities in the hotel and ensure that all works as it should for the pleasure and comfort of the guests.

What amenities can guests hope to enjoy from a hotel like yours? Any idea on some of the fun activities they engage in while they lodge here?

The lobby of the Maison Fahrenheit is an architectural delight and a poignant source of admiration for guests. The LA Spiga restaurant is a nice private spot in the hotel where guests can enjoy diverse and exotic drinks, as well as mouthwatering local and continental cuisines like Lamb Curry etc. Maison also features a private outdoor pool perfect for water aerobics and tropical Pinacolda, as well as the ever popular outdoor rooftop lounge.

In a few words, tell us what makes Maison Fahrenheit unique compared to other hotels and suites?

Well, first of all, Maison Fahrenheit is the first lifestyle hotel in Lagos, meaning we are more than a boutique hotel.  Maison has an Eat. Play. Stay culture embedded into the hotel’s operations to ensure guests enjoy their stay from the moment they walk into the door. Our service culture is also unique, as we are willing to go above and beyond to ensure that we offer guests impeccable service all through their stay in the hotel.

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What can you say are some of the major challenges faced by hotel administrators in Nigeria? Any words on possible solutions to these challenges?

Not defining their hotel’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and not understanding who their target market is. Hotel administrators need to be able to define their USP and understand their target market, otherwise they are going to get it wrong and fall short in the delivery of impeccable and satisfying service to guests.

As a manager of this hotel, can you share one or two of the lessons you have learnt on travel and hotel management that can useful to students and upcoming hotel administrators in the hotel and tourism sector?

An important lesson I have learnt is the importance of defining your target market as a hotel. It simply boils down to the fact that as a hotel, not everyone can be your guest. The sooner you understand that as a hotel administrator, the easier it’ll be to keep your guests happy and deliver exceptional service to them. Also, it is also necessary to invest in marketing. After spending all that time defining your target market, how are you going to reach out to them or connect with them if you don’t market? Investing in marketing can help take your hotel out of obscurity and bring it into the ‘line of sight’ of your target market. Additionally, you should be strategic in your  thinking. As a hotel administrator, you should always have a plan because anything can happen and you have to be prepared for it.

For those looking to work in the hospitality sector in Nigeria, what will be your advice to them?

I’ll say they should have a passion for service. The hospitality sector is a service industry and you need to have a passion for service to thrive in it.

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7 Cities in 14 days and all by Train! – Jubilian Ngaruwa Shares her Exciting Travel Adventure

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Jubilian Ngaruwa (JubiTrip), a Nigerian Travel Documentary Content Creator, talks about her exciting adventure across seven cities in the country in 14 days by train. She shares some details of the trip, talks about some of her fun and challenging experiences and eventually, based on her adventure, gives some sound advice to the government and other travelers or travelers on tourism in Nigeria. Enjoy!

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Please tell us a little about yourself, your name and what inspired you to become a Travel Documentary Content Creator?

My name is Jubilian Ngaruwa. I am from Delta state. I am a travel writer who loves the creative world, loves to travel and tell stories. In 2015, I started writing for Hangout Nigeria. I would visit places and write reviews about them; it was from doing that that I developed an interest in travel documentary content creation. I have a vlog on youtube, Jubtrip, where I share some of my content. My interest in travel, love for creativity and love for motion picture inspired and continues to inspire me to create travel content.

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You recently finished a train trip to 7 cities in 14 days, please tell us more about that? What inspired you to do it? And why did you decide to travel by train?

On the 26th September, 2017, I decided to travel by train from Lagos to Ibadan, then to Oshogbo, Kaduna, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Enugu and back to Lagos. I traveled by train because I always wanted to. My inspiration for this trip actually came from wanting to do something memorable for my birthday, so a train trip across 7 cities seemed like a great way to make that happen, especially because it was something I had never done before. So when I had laid down the plan, I saved up, took a leave from work and was on my way. I would actually have loved to go to more cities but I was restricted to only the cities that have train routes.

Something I would also like to add relating to the planning of this trip is that, when I had made up mind that this train trip was what I wanted to do, I actually contacted some travel agents for support but they turned me down on the basis of not having a reason to support me because travel by train was not a popular choice for travelers. I didn’t let this bring me down however, and I continued with my plans determined to see it to fruition even if that meant financing it myself.

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Can you share some details of the trip? Did you travel alone, with someone or with a group of people? Please share how you were able to accommodate all your activities in only 14 days?

I didn’t go alone, I went with a camera guy because I needed someone to help document the experience. As part of my preparation for the trip, I contacted ‘Waka With Debbie’ for some information. I also contacted a geographer, who helped me draw a map with the cities and train routes that I would need. The geographer was really helpful, I can say it was her effort that practically made the trip possible because everything she put in the map was very accurate, even down to the time of arrival of the trains at the station. Additionally, on my own, I made some inquiries from the railway corporation in Lagos on the train movement (which included the time of arrival at the station amongst other things) for Lagos and outside Lagos. I also asked for confirmation on the states in the country that had train stations and routes. On the trip, I spent a day exploring each city before moving on to the next that was how I was able to accommodate the activities I planned to explore on the trip.

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Still on your train trip, what were some of the things you did or activities you enjoyed at those cities? Where did you visit in those cities and why?

I started my trip in Lagos and in Lagos I first visited the Kalakuta Museum and then the Nigerian Railway Corporation Museum at Ebutte Metta to officially launch the trip with about 13 people, including myself and the camera man. From Lagos Iddo, I took a train to Ibadan. In Ibadan, I visited the Agodi Gardens and then the Ibadan zoo. But I must that I was very impressed with the Ibadan zoo, it was very organized, the animals were healthy, in good condition and the place was well maintained. In fact, I was so impressed with the state of things that I wondered if it was privately owned. After Ibadan I went, by bus, to Oshogbo because there is no train from Ibadan to Oshogbo.

At Oshogbo, I visited the Erin Ijesha waterfall and the Osun-Oshogbo Sacred Groove. I stayed at a hotel in Oshogbo while I was there. Typically, if I didn’t have a friend in the city to help with accommodation, I would stay in a hotel. After Oshogbo, the next city I was to go to was Kaduna. The journey from Oshogbo to Kaduna was a very long one. First, I waited at the train station for the train’s arrival for almost 26hours. I actually slept there waiting for the train. The reason given for the delay was that the train got damaged on the road. Apparently, this delay is nothing new as the train is already known for getting damaged along the way. I remember when I told an attendant at the station that I was going to Kaduna from Oshogbo (I was asking for the expected time of arrival), the attendant laughed and actually told me that if I got there in 6 days I should be grateful to God.

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True to the words of this attendant, I spent 5 days on my way to Kaduna because the train kept stopping. Only one train head was carrying 16 coaches, it was no wonder that aside being slow the train kept having issues. Then about the trains, before I forget, at first when I paid for tickets for myself and the camera man, I paid for the second class coach because I wanted to experience how it was like for the sake of adventure. However, when the train finally arrived and I entered into the coach and saw how it was, I immediately went to the attendant to get an upgrade. I just thank God I was able to get one. The second class coach was worse than a pig sty and had a terrible stench. I even tried to see if I could find even if it was just one comfortable spot for me to lay my head but there was none. The place was so horrible that no human being should have to stay there for a second talk less of 5 days; in fact some of the passengers who couldn’t bear the stench of the coach would sit atop the train while in motion, which was very dangerous. I just really thought it was terrible because the second class ticket sold for N1,700 and even though it might not be so much, it’s a lot of money for those who pay for the ticket to cough up. They shouldn’t be subjected to such inhumane conditions.

I and my camera man had to sleep in the bus for the 5 day period of the trip. In some of the villages we stopped, the villagers were nice. They actually provided us with water and places to bathe. It was from this experience that I learnt how patient and kind Nigerians can be. I kept expecting the passengers to complain about the train’s constant faults or about having to sleep in the bush but instead they remained quiet. In fact, at a point when the train developed yet another fault and broke down, some of passengers volunteered to help repair the train. I guess they were already used to it. But I wasn’t. I kept worrying about my safety and thinking about what would happen if thieves or some villagers decided to attack while we were in the bus. I and my camera guy would be an easy target for them because of the camera we carried along. It was all just the grace of God.

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We finally arrived at Kaduna on the 5th day and while in Kaduna, I visited the NOK village to explore the NOK museum. I also spoke to some elders to learn about their culture and traditions. I stayed with a friend while in Kaduna; I didn’t have time to do more than visit the NOK village and taste their locally tapped palm wine mainly because the NOK village was quite a distance, and there a lot to explore there that didn’t give me time to do much else. In case I didn’t already mention it, one major mission for me on this trip was to taste the locally tapped palm wine of all the cities I visited and then determine which had the best (I love palm wine that much). Of all the locally tapped palm wines I tasted, I must say that Oshogbo had the best. The details of my selection, including the criteria I used for the selection and my eventual arrival at Oshogbo being the city with the best locally tapped palm wine will be on my vlog soon.

My next stop was Abuja. From Kaduna I took a train to Abuja from the Rigasa station. The Rigasa station was very different from that of Oshogbo. The trains were in great condition, the security was good and the scenario was just different. Their timing is great and they really keep to time – from the time of departure to the time of arrival. I think the Rigasa station is one of the best in Nigeria, if not the best. The trains are so good that the second class coach of their train is equivalent to the first class coach of the train at the Oshogbo station; also one head carries 5 coaches so it’s really fast. I paid for the ticket of the second class coach and was on my way to Abuja with my camera guy. The second class coach cost N1050 while the first class coach cost N1500 (N2000 cheaper than that of the Oshogbo station, which cost N3500).

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At Abuja, I visited the Art market and then, of course, tasted their locally tapped palm wine at a local bar. I wanted to also visit Zuma rock but I didn’t have the time to do so. I stayed with a friend for the duration and then by the next day, I was on a bus ride to Port Harcourt. There was no train route from Abuja to Port Harcourt so I had to go by bus.

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At Port-Harcourt, because there aren’t much tourist destinations there, I just visited their local bar for locally tapped palm wine and then later in the evening, I went to watch a movie at the Silverbird Cinema and after that went to a Karaoke bar. The following day, I had to go by bus to Enugu though Port-Harcourt had a train station with a train route to Enugu. The reason is that the trains at the Port-Harcourt station are non-functional and have been that way for about three months because, according to the officials, the train tracks are bad and to prevent the trains for stopping or developing faults along the way, the train don’t move. So, I traveled by bus to Enugu.

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While in Enugu, I visit Ngwo to experience the local environment and of course taste the locally tapped palm wine. I also tasted their ‘abacha’ delicacy and I must say that compared to the ones I’ve tasted in Lagos, this one was much better and more delicious. Much like in Abuja, I wanted to visit the Ngwo pine forest while here, but because of time I couldn’t. I stayed in a hotel for the duration of my visit and by the next day I was on a bus ride from Enugu to Lagos. This ended by 14-day trip to 7 cities.

What were some of the safety precautions you took during the trip even amidst the activity, to keep yourself and belongings safe?

To be honest, I didn’t take much safety precautions on the trip. But all I really did was to ensure that I took care of my things well and kept them close, especially the camera because I rented it for the trip. Also, it helped that I traveled with a guy and that the guy could be rugged when the situation demanded. I remember when we were at Oshogbo and the bus we took while shuttling between destinations broke down. The conductor wanted to take advantage of the situation and refuse to refund our money. The camera guy had to challenge the conductor before our money was eventually refunded. I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle that had I been on my own, and would have ended up losing the money.

Regarding the cost of the trip, how were you able to finance the trip? Were you able to save cost during the trip, if yes, what were some of the cost saving techniques you applied?

Financially, I got support from Nkechi Uko from Akwaaba and from Trip Berry on the condition that I move with the brand and basically just showcase their brands as often as I can in anyway that I can. The support from the two of them covered the media cost, some parts of the feeding and transportation cost and the cost of hotels we stayed in. I also used some of the money I saved up for the trip to cover the rest of the expenses like the cost of entering into some of the tourist sites, the cost of taking pictures or making videos at the sites, the cost of getting a tour guide and the rest of the feeding and transportation costs. Altogether to finance trip I ended up spending about N270,000; without the cost of media coverage I would maybe have spent about N140,000.

Moving on to the difficulties faced, what were some of the difficulties you experienced during the trip? Can you share some of these ‘not-so-fun’ experiences and what you learned from them?

Including some difficulties that I already mentioned, some others were that my feet got really swollen at a point. This was during the 5-day trip from Oshogbo to Kaduna. The passengers were nice, some helped with leaves to apply to reduce the swelling and I was advised to removed the military boots I had one and change to slippers. Their help alleviated some of my discomfort till the swelling eventually went down. Also, since I came back I have been on antibiotics treatment because I started having headaches, purging and just generally not feeling like myself. One major thing I learnt from the experience is that you can’t just make videos in trains, you have ask the hosts or hostesses for permission. I remember when I tried recording on the train, I think this was on the way to Ibadan from Lagos, I was told to stop immediately. I later learned that I would have been able to record if I had asked before-hand. Again, I also learnt that Nigerians are very nice people and can be very patient in situations they don’t have absolute control over.

On a more personal note, how interesting will you say the trip was to you? If you were to describe your trip in three words, what would those words be

The trip was challenging and adventurous, and yes I had fun at the tourist attractions but the trip itself wasn’t really fun – it was more adventurous than fun.

 

At this point, it’s safe to say that to some extent you’ve been around the country, so in terms of travel and tourism, what would you say are some of the gaps the government needs to fill?

The tourist attractions need maintenance. I gives kudos to the Ibadan zoo, they maintain it very well, so well that I first doubted if it was actually managed by the government. I thought it was probably managed privately. Most of the tourist sites in Nigeria are not well maintained and they need proper attention. Also, the train stations and trains need repairs and proper maintenance, they need proper check up from time to time. Some of the train tracks are damaged, like that of Port Harcourt, and they have been that way for quite a while, they need to be repaired and properly maintained. Most of the tourist attractions are good, but they just need maintenance.

Based on your experience, do you have any advice for travelers, travel bloggers or any person that might be aspiring to travel within the country like you have just done?

My advice to them is to go on the trip, experience it and tell the world how it is because I think that more people need to go out and experience how train travel is in Nigeria. If more people travel by trains then awareness can be raised on the terrible conditions, and maybe something will be done about it. I think more people should organize tours for train travel and I am glad that some tour operators have started to do so, but more tour operators should follow suit. I don’t want to be only one to tell this story. I believe the courageous and adventurous ones will want to experience it and they can then come back to tell people about it and thus raise awareness.

Finally, is it okay for us to anticipate more exciting travel adventures like this from you? If yes, can you please give us hint of what the next one might be?

Yes you can. For now, I am focusing on domestic adventures around Nigeria. For my next adventure, I want to explore ghetto tourism in Nigeria. I want to know more about the slums of Nigeria, explore it and basically just go into that life and open it up for people to see.

6 Travel Expenses You Should Not Forget To Budget For

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Whether you are a luxury or budget traveller, you are likely to pay more attention to the big and important expenses such as transportation and accommodation when preparing your travel budget. However, what your budget doesn’t take into consideration are the hidden and unexpected expenses that come with your trip, domestic or international. Ignoring these costs can ruin your travel experience.

We take a look at the travel expenses you should NOT forget to budget for:

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1.Emergency expenses

Emergency expenses may include: missing your flight, having to pay out of your pocket for a stranger, having to book another accommodation because you were unhappy with your original booking, and more. These emergencies will be easier to deal with if you provide for them in your budget.

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2.Foreign transaction fees

If you are travelling abroad, foreign transactions fees will be deducted from your credit or debit card especially if you are using your card a lot during your trip.

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3.Additional Food and drink

Food and drink costs are an obvious part of your travel budget. However, if you eat out often, the cost may affect your budget. The ultimate way to cushion the effect is to budget for additional foods and drinks.

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4.Items you forget to pack

This may include toiletries, proper clothing, footwear, an umbrella and more. If you forget any of these items, you have to purchase them particularly, if you cannot do without them. So, endeavour to have a packing list to get rid of these expenses.

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5.Unplanned Adventures

Activities, events and adventures may appear out of nowhere at your destination and you will have no choice than to attend. Hence, make sure you budget for these spontaneous adventures, either in cash or with your card.

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6.Mobile phone charges

Your smartphone helps you keep in contact with your family and share your adventures on social media. These services come at a cost. If you are not careful, you will find yourself charged huge fees.

“To grow the international market, we need a strong domestic market”- DG, NTDC

The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folarin Coker has said that for international tourism market to grow, Nigeria needs a strong domestic market because domestic tourism is the only form of sustainable tourism.



Coker made this remark during his keynote address which had the theme Maximizing the Potentials of the Hospitality and Tourism Industry: The Role of the Government” at the just concluded Nigerian Hospitality and Tourism Conference which held in Lagos, organised by Jumia Travel, the leading online travel agency.

The bedrock of tourism is not the big footprint of foreign brands but rather, the many cottage industries manned by passionate indigenes. That is what allows tourism be the largest employer of labour in the world, even over the oil industry,” Coker added.

Meanwhile, the managing director of Jumia Travel Nigeria, Omolara Adagunodo, in her welcome remark stated some of the laudable initiatives the online travel agency has embarked on as part of efforts geared towards promoting travel and tourism within the country.


According to her, at the time the company was entering the market some 5 years ago, it was noticed that data on the travel industry was not available. The company therefore took it upon itself to invest in the production of such data every year.

In the last five years of our existence as a company, we have been involved in notable endeavors that sought to move the industry forward. One of the very first things we noticed at a time was the lack of data in the travel industry. As you all know, data is indeed crucial to the planning and development of any sector. So, we took it upon ourselves to invest in the production of a report on the Nigerian hospitality industry. We produce this report yearly in every African country we have our operation,”Adaogunodo said.

The conference had two panel discussions with relevant travel practitioners as panelists. The theme “Using New Media to Merchandise Major Nigerian Sites, Destinations & Places to Drive Tourists Footfall” was discussed by Chiamaka Obuekwe, Founder of Social Prefect Tours; Funmi Oyatogun, Founder of TVP Adventures; Wonu Lamidi, CEO of Diamond & Pearl Tours; Lola Daniyan, Founder of Unravelling Nigeria; and Michael Balogun, Founder of Tour2Nigeria.



Managing Current Hotel Trends to Anticipate Future Customers Needs” was the theme of the second panel discussion which had Damilola Koya of Eko Hotel & Suites; Anthony Shisler of Fahrenheit; Omolara Adagunodo of Jumia Travel; Jeff Fischer of Welcome Centre Hotels; and Paul Okojie of Golden Tulip.



The Nigerian Hospitality and Tourism Conference is a yearly event being organised by Jumia Travel Nigeria. Its objective is to bring the key players in the industry together to share knowledge and information with the growing circle of travel and tourism enthusiasts in the country. It’s a free to attend event.

 

FOUR INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT ABEOKUTA

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Abeokuta, the state capital of Ogun State in southwest Nigeria, is one of Nigeria’s most industrious cities. It’s a large city which lies below the Olumo Rock and is home to several caves. There are several interesting things about the bustling city.

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  1. Alake’s Palace

This palace is the home of the custodian of the culture and traditions of the Egba people, the Alake of Egba Land. It’s a unique and culturally rich destination that houses many statues, busts and figures that represent the deities, gods and different culturally relevant historical figures.

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Olumo Rock

This is one of the Abeokuta’s most popular attractions and one of Nigeria’s major tourist attractions.  The rock was used as a fortress for the Egba people during intertribal wars in the 19th century. The stairs of the rock are actually man-made and were carved into the rock by the Egba people to enable them climb the rock. On the journey to the top of the rock, you can see sights of carvings in the rock, cowrie-studded statues and the ancient abode of the priestesses who live in huts on the rock. On your back down, the beautiful sight of the Ogun river can be admired.

 

Abeokuta Museum

Yes Abeokuta indeed has a museum. The museum houses artifacts that tell of the town and its people’s ancient history. Lovers of archeology will find a lot to learn from this place as the museum is indeed a repository of the culture and tradition of the town and its people. The museum also houses the handcrafts and ancient weapons used by the early settlers of the town and its environs. It also displays the culture and heritage of the people in a revealing and educative way.

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Hilltop Golf Resort

This resort has a large, beautiful and technical golf course that has hosted a number of national golf tournaments. The resort is a relaxing leisure spot and a safe location with breathtaking scenery and a luscious green landscape. It’s a delightful sight. The resort has a prestigious and highly sought club, the Abeokuta Golf Club, which you would have to be a member of to enjoy the resort’s golfing facilities. The club is one of the most prestigious and highly sought clubs in Abeokuta.

 

FOUR ATTRACTIONS YOU PROBABLY HAD NO IDEA WERE IN ENUGU

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Enugu, the coal city state, is an industrious state located in the southeastern part of Nigeria. The city name is derived from two Igbo names which when translated mean “hill top”. This was done because of the state’s hilly geography (it indeed has a lot of hills). There are a number of geographic and cultural attractions Enugu has to offer that are unfortunately unknown to a reasonable number of people.

We share 4 attractions you probably had no idea were in Enugu.

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  1. Silicon Hill

America has ‘Silicon Valley’ and Nigeria has a ‘Silicon Hill’. The Silicon Hill is a stunning natural attraction in Enugu state that gives a breath taking view of the state from the hill’s summit. It’s one of Enugu’s major tourist attractions, which sees tourists, fun seekers and even students exploring the site to experience its natural beauty. You may or may not climb to the top of hill, it depends on you. The site also has a lovely background for taking beautiful pictures. It’s located near the Nkpologu campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology.

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2. Ngwo Cave and Waterfall

Adventure seekers will very likely have a field day at this interesting natural attraction also located just outside Enugu state. To get to the cave, one would have to go through a cluster of Pine Forests and this is where a tour guide is essential, because the path to the cave is not well defined and one can get lost (but that won’t happen if you can simply get a tour guide). The cave itself is built of solid limestone and offers a stunning view of said limestone and a waterfall dripping from above the cave, which forms a beautiful plunge pool. Lovers of adventure and nature are sure to enjoy this site.

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3. Milken Hills

This is a famous tourist attraction in Enugu state. You should scold yourself if you never knew this attraction existed and was in Enugu state. The attraction is located in Ngwo Vilage of Enugu State. There is a 4.8km long road constructed along the road surrounding the hill which makes it accessible. The hills are great for mountaineering, boasts of stunning panoramic views of the city’s metropolis and is a beautiful natural sight to behold.

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4. Ani Ozalla Lake and Shrine

Nigeria’s very own crocodile habitation. It’s a natural lake located at Ozalla in Nkanu West LGA near Enugu. There’s also a shrine there and it’s believed that the crocodiles there are goddesses who appear from the lake at the command of the chief priest to take offering from supplicants.

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Religious tourists and fun seekers might not particularly find this place appealing, though they can choose to ignore the shrine and enjoy the natural beauty and sights of the lake. It’s a natural lake with numerous crocodiles so be careful to adhere to all your tour guide says and only go to places permitted by your tour guide. Overall, it’s a safe and naturally beautiful site.

FOUR WAYS TO TRAVEL SMARTLY IN NIGERIA

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Travelling doesn’t have to be such an expensive and somewhat inconvenient endeavor. It doesn’t have to be an endeavor that’s hard on your finances and lifestyle.  There are ways to make the most of your travelling experience and reduce its pressure on your finances and lifestyle. We share four ways to travel smartly in Nigeria.

  1. Choose Your Means of Transport Wisely

Constantly check for the fares of different legitimate airlines and transport companies; check for their specific discount periods and discount schemes that will be of benefit to you in budgeting and planning for your travel with your decided mode of transportation. This can help maximize your travel experience. Registering on travel and hotel booking portals like Jumia Travel can help with this. You can take advantage of special travel smart deals to save yourself some more money.

2. Organize Your Travel Documents Well

Ensure all your travel documents are in place and are easily accessible, so you don’t have to waste time trying to find them at crucial times. This sort of oversight can end up either delaying your journey or making it entirely impossible. Besides, you’ll save yourself the stress of having to deal with officials that might get hostile or even embarrassing when this happens.

3. Pack Lightly

This can help you avoid excess luggage charges and save you from spending extra money on your travel. Just pack necessary items that can make your travel more convenient and leave behind the rest. Packing with purpose can go a long way in helping you achieve this. Pack with your location in mind and avoid packing things that aren’t versatile.

4. Plan Your Trips

Regardless of it’s a business trip or vacation, you should always endeavor to plan for your travel. From budgeting your travel expenses before and during the trip to the exact kind of hotel or accommodation you intend to stay in, and the means of transport you intent to use at your travel destination. If it’s an Uber you intend to use, plan for it; if taking the bus will be cheaper, plan for it. Plan every little detail of your trip to the best of your ability. Yes things happen, and you might ultimately not be able to execute your entire plan but it will at least keep you relatively in control of your travel experience and help you reduce and very possibly avoid excess and unexpected costs.

South Africa launches hate crime unit with Nigeria

Early warning’ system established between two countries after spate of xenophobic attacks on migrants in South Africa.

South Africa says it will launch an “early warning” system with Nigeria to track and deter xenophobic attacks following a surge in violence in the rainbow nation.

South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the new monitor would “help prevent violence” against foreigners and their businesses as she met with Geoffrey Onyeama, her Nigerian counterpart on Monday.

Last month, more than 20 shops were targeted in Atteridgeville, 120km west of Pretoria, while in Rosettenville, an area south of the commercial capital Johannesburg, residents attacked at least 12 houses.

In response to the violence, the Nigerian government called for the African Union to step in and stop the “xenophobic attacks”, claiming 20 Nigerians were killed in South Africa last year.

South African authorities have declined to confirm the figure which may have been the result of other criminal activity, not just anti-immigrant violence.

Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters it was untrue that the attacks were specifically “targeting Nigerians”, adding citizens of other countries were also affected.

She said the monitor would meet every three months and would be made up of representatives from both countries including immigration officials, business associations, and civil society groups.

‘Mass attacks’

Onyeama said he had received assurances that Nigerians in South Africa would be able to live in peace and called for an end to “mass attacks”.

According to the Nigerian Union in South Africa, there are about 800,000 Nigerians in the country, many of them living in Johannesburg.

A protest march against “migrant crime” was held in Pretoria on February 24 and resulted in violent clashes between crowds of young South African men and migrants from elsewhere in Africa, including Nigerians and Somalis.

Attacks against foreigners and foreign-run businesses have erupted regularly in recent years in South Africa, fuelled by the country’s high unemployment and poverty levels.

President Jacob Zuma called for calm and restraint, saying that migrants should not be used as a scapegoat for the country’s widespread crime problem.

“Harnessing big data and improving emotional intelligence, key to personalizing travelers experience”

The Vice President of Jumia Travel Nigeria, Omolara Adagunodo has stated that harnessing big data properly and improving emotional intelligence will help to personalize the African traveler’s experience through technology. She made the remark at one of the panel discussions hosted by Afro Tourism at this year’s Social Media Week in Lagos.

She pointed out that for the African traveler’s experience to be personalised through technology, there has to be a right mix of data to reach out to the customers. “Some of the recommended tips for achieving this will include, sending personalized messages to customers, understanding, and analyzing website traffic to have a clue on what travelers are looking for.”

Omolara further emphasized on the role of big data as the godfather for the internet of things, data collection, information analytics, artificial intelligence, data science, and growth hacking.

The panel discussion also had other seasoned hospitality experts and travel bloggers in attendance, such as Ikechi Uko, organiser of Akwaaba & publisher of ATQ magazine; Bruce Prins, hospitality consultant; Chiamaka Obueke, Founder of Social Prefect; Innocent Uchenna, Travelstart; Tosin Ajibade, Founder of Olorisupergal; and Sam Adeleke of Afrotourism as the moderator.

In his comment, Ikechi Uko of Akwaaba identified the need to create networks that enable Africans to travel within Africa. He queried the current deficit in the number of airlines flying within Africa, as this has forestalled many travels in Africa.

“We need to create more profitable airlines flying within Africa; this will encourage more travels within the continent. There are interesting destinations in Africa but how many Africans visit these destinations?” he added.

While answering questions on the kind of effective method of sending personalized messages to travelers, Omolara stated that operators in the travel and hospitality business should start keeping customers’ data. The data should consequently be used to pitch personalized messages to the customers. She cited for instance a hotel sending a wedding anniversary message to a couple who lodged in the hotel during the wedding ceremony. When you personalize or tailor make your messages to customers’ special dates, it will have a lasting impression on them, and encourage return patronage.”