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Tourism expert advocates Nigeria-South Africa collaboration

Published by Tribune on Mon, 20 Feb 2012

A South African travel and hospitality consultant, Elisha Maistry, has identified a number of steps that Nigeria and South Africa should take to achieve a mutually-rewarding business relationship in the travel and hospitality sector. The first step, she highlighted, was that South Africans should change their perception of Nigerians. Her words: 'South Africans need to change their perception of Nigerians in South Africa and profile Nigeria as a nation that will add economic value to South Africa. We (South Africans) need to see Nigerians as tourists and businessmen and not opportunists.' The second step, according to her, is that operators in the South African travel trade should carry out feasibility studies or surveys to enable them leverage the possible influx of Nigerian businessmen and tourists to the rainbow country.'We need to understand what Nigerians are looking for. Is it the sea, mountains or just peace and quiet' Once we know their needs, then we can show them how attractive South Africa is to meet their needs.We need to explore both drive and fly opportunities and create packages that are affordable and attractive. This is the line of thoughts guiding our objectives and activities at the Peacock office in South Africa.' For collaboration between Nigeria and South Africa to be mutually-rewarding, she says, Nigeria has two tasks to perform. First, she wants the country to develop its potentials and create attractions for the South African businessmen and tourists. 'As a travel destination, Nigeria needs to drive the flow of business and leisure travels from South Africa to Nigeria. What plans do you have in place to convince more South Africans to visit Nigeria for business and leisure purposes' Create opportunities that are attractive to South Africans, there must be an attraction for people to want to go to Nigeria and we need to explore all the strength of Nigeria and use this effectively,' she said. On business opportunities Nigerians can tap in South Africa, she said there are huge potentials in the SME sector and there are great opportunities for people to become entrepreneurs, for which they needed to be skilled and mentored. 'The government in South Africa has placed huge development in this sector of the economy. Many Nigerians can take up this opportunity legally and become great businessmen and women.' The South Africa Peacock boss also stated that Nigerians have a role to play to make South Africans perceive them in good light. We need to change the stigma, stop illegal immigrants to South Africa because they are the ones that give the bad name to Nigeria. We need to find a way to make the Nigerians in South Africa understand that illegal business accord their country a status, there must be some literature to all travellers on this matter.' She recommends a common task for both countries. She says, 'On the business side, South Africa should set up a business expo with Nigeria and use the Nigerian Embassy in South Africa to sponsor this together with DTI.Maistry states that her focus is to use the opportunity offered to her by Peacock to move the sector forward, According to Maistry, 'My plan is to build relationships within the business sector and consolidate on the achievement ofPeacock Travel, which is a well-established and reliable brand in Southern Africa. We are looking at improving the bilateral relationship that exists between South Africa and Nigeria. Our intention is to expose the nationals of both nations to the unpopular tourist destinations.
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