Dec 26, 2015

Tourists' Attractions or Lies

Assop Fall
On December 26, 2014 my craving for honey took me to a place called Forest, at a portion of the boundary separating Plateau and Kaduna States. I turned up at Forest and was redirected backwards to a travelers’ stop I had passed along the road to Abuja. Coincidentally, the very traveler’s stopover overlooks the Assop Fall. 

Assop Fall often gets featured on tourism discussions and listed in tourist brochures as one of the places you wouldn’t want to miss when visiting Plateau State. 

I decided to use the opportunity to go see things for myself. A small rundown shade stood as a reception. Till today, it is still the only building there. As I descended, two young men I had mistaken as straying jobless youths from the village approached me, introducing themselves as staff of Plateau State Tourism Corporation. They looked so deprived and I felt sorry for them getting stationed at a place completely lacking of any form of sophistication.  They told me that going down to see the fall wasn’t free. So, I bought a ticket and I was allowed to walk down the valley to see the fall. 

Besides the fall, there was nothing to be proud of. What makes me proud of where I come from is what we have been able to do over and above what others had done. The rundown nature of the reception was just one reason why I was moved to think deep about the carefree attitude of our leaders, leaders who kill our pride by their political actions or inactions. Other reasons were the fact that the place never attracted tourists, since nothing has been done to develop it beyond the potential that it has, and the fact that any person wishing to visit would have been turn off by the obvious fact that the place is a rendezvous of miscreants. These miscreants often meet there in the nights, in the name of partying. It was possible to see real tourist attractions in the form of human wastes littering the place.

I climbed out of the valley with my mind pregnant with thoughts. It was the only “fun” I had.
This neglect isn’t peculiar to Assop Fall, but all the “tourist resources” often quoted in tourist’s guides, the printing of which is often awarded to a girlfriend or some other close friend or relation. 

Another “attraction” is the Mado Tourist Village. The Mado Tourist Village is a collection of chalets that was meant to provide accommodation to tourists. At first, it was a novel idea that was abandoned by subsequent authorities. Eventually, sprawling slums engulfed it and homeless people occupied them, after the furnishings had been stolen. Today, crazy officials still quote the place as a tourist’s resource. 

 There is also the Jos Wild Life Park. I was there on Christmas of 2010. There were foreigners, mostly from Hill Crest School. Their faces showed a mix of desperation for recreation and the discontent of not finding one. There were wastes from the snacks visitor often brought in, a lot of the animals had died without being replaced and those still alive appeared malnourished. The scenario made me ashamed and let down.  
 The story of neglect is the same with Rayfield Resort, Rockland Hotel, Wase Rock, and many others. These are places either occupied by wild animals or homeless people, but still quoted as destinations for fun seekers.

The danger of telling lies to tourists is that it undermines their faith about what we claim to have. Back home, they tell it as it is and we get wiped off the world’s tourism maps.

This culture of incompetence has been the reason why creativity is lacking in the states in Nigeria as a whole. This has resulted in the inability of states to generate revenues, waiting only for cheap subventions that come from the central coffer, a coffer that is dependent largely on erratic oil money. 

We have to wake up and work to attract tourists, even if they are local tourists. There is the craving for recreation even at home. If the sites are good, foreigners who stray into them would tell the tale back home. Eventually, we’ll show up again in the maps again

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