Tell us your love story with tourism
“Back in the days when we gained admission into school, I have always been a lover of archaeology. The education system in Nigeria made me deviate because at that time, it was only University of Ibadan (UI) and University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukka that were offering the course.
“I opted to study Computer Science at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State. But tourism still has a place in my heart. When I was in school, I could just wake up and go exploring because I live close to a bush. At night, I hear some creepy sounds and people would say they were bush babies (popularly known as Iwin in Yoruba land).
“One morning I decided to explore the little forest and we walked for about 25 minutes before we could meet any human. One of the greatest discoveries for me is to find a place largely uncivilized and couldn’t believe we have such a place in Ago-Iwoye. They were still using leaves to cover their bodies, weren’t used to seeing people with clothes. But I couldn’t ask much questions that day because it seemed like they were about to sacrifice someone and we hurriedly left the horrible scene. That was how tourism started for me.
“Over the course of two to three years, I started brainstorming; I became a tourist. I went to as many places I could go and learnt enough about Ogun State. After school, I got a job with a brand in Abuja.”
How did you attain a breakthrough in tourism?
“In 2015, I figured I would go back to Ogun state. I called my team and I narrated my vision to them and asked them if it was achievable. Then we started with an idea which was to promote tourism.
“I spoke about the other aspects of tourism which we could develop such as Food, Marriage, etc. We designed the Miss Tourism Ogun concept and launched it strictly for indigents.
“At a point, we decided to make the audition open to girls who are not indigenes of the state because we want to create a platform that gives equal opportunity to all.”
What are the challenges therein?
“Since the concept debuted in November 6, 2015, we have faced series of challenges including lack of support from the state government at all levels.
“The state Commissioner for Tourism, Muyiwa Oladipo, was appointed October 29, 2015 and his first official outing was to attend the maiden edition of Miss Tourism Ogun. I approached him for a way to create a platform for these girls to promote the state’s tourism, telling him to create an office for any winner of each edition so they become Youth Ambassadors under the ministry. All efforts to make this a reality proved abortive. In the end, we could not sign on a major promotional partnership.”
“To encourage ourselves, we had a project called Foundation for a Formidable Future. We brought primary and secondary school students in Ilaro together and we educated them about tourism in Ogun State.
“I could not allow 2016 to go without doing something pertaining to tourism so we hosted a Tourism Expedition, an event that showcased the tourism potentials of Ogun state to selected youths from across the country.
“We covered 15 tourist centers which includes; Olumo Rock, Green Legacy Resort, OOPL Wild Life Park, Obafemi Awolowo Museum, Simawa Village, Iperu Remo and so on.
“Owing to financial challenges, we could not stage the 2017 edition of Miss Tourism Ogun but we had the 2018 edition which produced Nsofor Nancy(Miss Tourism Ogun), Funmbi Olaleye (Miss Tourism Ogun Top Model) and others . An innovative aspect to this year’s edition includes the Ogun Heritage Awards and a preview of Heritage Magazine, with a focus on Nigeria’s heritage and culture. The magazine, though, was a test run of what is to come.”
What next for Miss Tourism Ogun?
L-R: MD/CEO Teemark Group, Dr. Taiwo Ayodeji, Miss Tourism in Ogun State, Miss Funmbi Olaleye, Managing Editor, Tourismline Magazine, Mr. Taiwo Akintunde and Convener Miss Tourism Ogun, Mr. Oladiran Olalekan during a courtesy visit to Teemark Group head office in Lagos recently in a bid to explore partnership opportunities.
“I do a lot of thinking. I am the kind of man who is open to ideas even if it’s from a teenager. When things are rough, you need to go back to how it all started. So, I went back to the basis and I try to break down each challenges and I discovered that funding has been a major issue hence. Finance does everything. From planning to logistics, etc. We are seriously working on key partnerships and sponsors who share our vision and seize this opportunity to call on all relevant stakeholders to support us on this cause as we promote and project our tourism.”