Miriam Ekwi Chiazor
Afro Tourism, Chief Operating Officer
4+years industry experience
In a few words tell us about yourself
My name is Miriam Ekwi Chiazor, i hail from Onicha Ugbo in Delta state Nigeria.
What inspired your interest in the hospitality and tourism industry?
As a young child i always had an interest in foreign relations. I always wanted to know the capitals of countries, most especially in Africa. this interest was spiked by my father who was an officer in the Nigeria Air Force. Over the years, My interest began to shape its focus on tourism. Even while working as a journalist , i wasn’t fulfilled until i started covering the Ministry of Tourism beat. If you have traveled outside of Africa, especially as a Nigerian, you will marvel at how so little is known about the continent. You will be in fact shocked that so much negative information is known about the continent because of the dearth of positive ones. The need to change the narrative, to correct the wrong impression, and present Africa as hospitable people inspire my interest in the travel and tourism industry. I have seen many beautiful places and warm people on the continent. I want others to come experience it. I also want our people to improve and even do more in being Nice and hospitable to others. These and many more inspires me.
What’s your vision for the hospitality & tourism industry?
My vision is to use tourism and hospitality to change the narrative about Nigeria and Africa as well as contribute to the GDP of Nigeria. Countries like Kenya and cities like Dubai make large income from tourism. China, the biggest economy in the world is looking to generate income from tourism. It is something i believe Nigeria should focus on. I want to see a better impression and treatment of Africans in Africa and everywhere else in the world because of a new appreciations of the people.I want to see a Nigeria devoid of violence and negative reports, where the barriers of moving from a point to another is removed. My vision is to engender a better understanding and appreciation of Africa and Africans. With this, we can then start seeing a boom in terms of the business side.
In what ways has your company contributed to the growth of the hospitality industry and it‘s stakeholders?
There is a saying that perception is everything and i agree with it to a large extent . There is a wrong perception about Africa even among Africans. This is the major front from which Afro Tourism has contributed to the growth of tourism and hospitality business in Africa. We have created platforms through which we tell the true everyday story about Africa. Through our media platforms, our intuitive website www.afrotourism.com and travel magazine called S.E.E Africa magazine. we have continued to inspire people to see Africa differently from what they see regularly in conventional media which is always negative. For stakeholder, we have provided the opportunity to leverage on our platform to promote their business to our audience who essentially are a growing population of young people who have been inspired to see Africa. We have also created the first African travel e-commerce platform, Afro deal, as a means of providing reasonably cheaper holiday experience for travelers. This platform helps stakeholders to market their product to their desired audience. We also co-organised the maiden edition of Nigeria Travel Week in collaboration with other stakeholders in the industry. Providing stakeholders with updates in the industry is another thing we do frequently especially through our media platform. the list is endless I must say.
What are your major challenges in your business?
The biggest Challenge is still perception. If we are able to correct the wrong impression about the continent, it will easier to draw travelers from everywhere in the world and grow the industry. For Africans, I think in addition to the perceptions, there is also cost and logistics of travelling within Africa. These are essentially policy issues which if we can get our government to work together better, we can reasonably mitigate.
What are your thoughts on the state of the hospitality & tourism industry in Nigeria?
Things are not where they should be, but they are not where they used to be. There is the infrastructure vacuum in Nigeria and other challenges, but things are picking up. Nigeria is mainly an outbound market, with most inbound trips business travels and returning Nigerians. The outbound market is huge. The local trips are growing too which is nice. We can only hope things get better.
How do you intend to join in the campaign of changing the game and perception of the hospitality & tourism industry in Nigeria?
We are already in the campaign, in fact i will say that’s what i have been doing from my day 1 in the industry by providing media content that gives a different narrative of Africa. Our approach is dual. We use our media platform to tell a story, we also go travel to meet people and interact with them. Each time we travel , we do so as ambassadors to show that Nigerians are good people and Nigeria is actually a great place to be.
Words of wisdom for intending and current industry stakeholders.
Never give up. The task is massive, but with continued persistence, we will achieve it.