Holiday on the Hills

Nigeria now has 17 national parks (and first marine park in West Africa)

June 26, 2021
News & Reports

The Nigerian government has approved the establishment of 10 new national parks across the country. The Conservator-General of the Nigeria Park Service Dr Ibrahim Musa Goni revealed this piece of news last December while receiving the executive members of the Association of Tourism Practitioners of Nigeria (ATPN), who paid him a visit at the Abuja headquarters this week.

This brings the total number of national parks to 17 nationwide.

“I have the approval of His Excellency President Mohammed Buhari to make this public,” he said during the meeting, attended by Hassan Zakari (President, ATPN) and Efetobo Ahwana (CEO/ Founder Nigeria Travel Week).

Partnering private investors

The Conservator-General listed the new parks to be as follows: Alawa Game Reserve (Niger State); Apoi Forest Reserve (Bayelsa State); Edumenum Forest Reserve (Bayelsa State); Falgore Game Reserve (Kano State);HadejiaWetlands Games Reserve (Nasarawa 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).

Old Oyo National Park (Oyo State)

According to Dr Goni, Nigeria also now has the only marine park in West Africa, situated in Bayelsa State in the South-South region. 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 Parks Service in a bid to contribute to various stakeholder 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 all the packages designed by our members,” Zakari said.

“Calendar of safari packages”

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.”

On his part, Awhana – who doubles as ATPN’s vice president – said there is also a publicity element to the association’s agenda.

“We are also looking at creating some marketing collateral for the Park Service – and by that I mean contemporary brochures and some online digital marketing tools, so that people can know more about the Parks. With ATPN, we’ll put all the information from our proposed fam trip together to produce differentsets of marketing materials.”

The ATPN was founded on 25 October 1990. To mark its 30th anniversary it hosted a webinar in November with the theme: “Driving Economic Sustainability through Tourism: From Rhetoric to Action”.

Speakers included: Marina Novelli (Prof of Tourism and International Development, University of Brighton); Alex Nwuba (Aircrafts Owners and Pilots Association); Ola Wright (West Africa Tourism Organisation); Gloria Manzo (World Travel and tourism Council); and DrIti Orugbani (Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Development, Bayelsa State)

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