Ecotourism in Nigeria has been boosted with the approval of 10 new National Parks by the Federal Government, bringing the total number of National Parks in the country under the management of the Nigeria Parks Service to 17. As reported by TRAVU, this new development was disclosed by the Conservator General of Nigeria Parks Service, Dr. Ibrahim Goni, when he played host to the newly elected executive members of the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), who visited him in his Abuja office.
“His Excellency President Mohammed Buhari has approved these parks to increase Nigeria’s potentials for ecotourism,” he said during the meeting, attended by Hassan Zakari, president, ATPN), Pelu Awofeso of TRAVU and Efetobo Awhana, (CEO/ Founder of Nigeria Travel Week.
Goni listed the new parks as follows: Alawa Game Reserve (Niger State); Apoi Forest Reserve (Bayelsa State); Edumenum Forest Reserve (Bayelsa State); Falgore Game Reserve (Kano State); Hadejia Wetlands Games Reserve (Jigawa State); Kampe Forest Reserve (Kwara State); Kogo Forest Reserve (Katsina State); Marai Forest Reserve ( Jigawa State); Oba Hill Forest Reserve (Osun State); and Pandam Forest Reserve (Plateau State).
Goni further disclosed that Nigeria now has the only marine park in West Africa, situated in Bayelsa State. He also noted that the federal government is now in the process of partially commercialising three of the existing national parks: Cross River National Park, Gashaka-Gumti National Park and Kainji Lake National Park. “The federal government is currently pursuing a PPP arrangement so that it can hands-off the excess load that it is carrying, which will help it lessen its burden and give room for the private sector to invest in these assets,” he said.
In his remarks, Zakari said he was at the park’s headquarters to seek ways of cooperation between the ATPN and the Nigeria Parks Service in a bid to contribute to the various stakeholders’ efforts aimed at developing Nigeria’s domestic tourism. “We want to seek collaboration in ways to promote the parks as a project.
We are seeking collaboration also to go on a familiarisation tour of these parks so that our members — who are nationwide — can have first-hand information about all that’s on offer in the various parks. This also will include getting direct access to the park heads to facilitate tour packages designed by our members,” Zakari said. He also pointed out that the ATPN is keen more than ever to promote safari as a product, because it has not been well promoted in Nigeria.
“Nigeria has seven national parks presently and some countries in Africa which have maybe one or two are doing well in that regard,” he added. “Part of our objectives is to produce a calendar of safari packages that people can buy into, both locally and internationally. One of the most important plans we have is that we want to bring Gashaka-Gumti National Park to limelight. It’s so rich but very much unknown.” Other plans, he continued, includes the possibility of creating air access to Jalingo, which takes visitors closer to the park.