L-R: Former Miss Nigeria, Ms Rosemary Okeke; National President of the Association of Tourism Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) Mr. Ganiyu Tarzan Balogun; Nigeria’s Father of Tourism, Chief Mike Amachree; MD/CEO, Lagos State Ferry Services, Mr. Paul Kalejaiye; Nigeria’s Foremost Tour Operator, Mr. Jemi Alade and Dr. Meshileya, when ATBOWATON hosted Chief Amachree in Lagos, recently.

Nigeria’s Father of Tourism, Chief Mike Amachree has called on governments across all tiers in the country to support and pay greater attention to water transportation as an important tourism enhancer.
Amachree was speaking while being hosted by members of the Association of Tourism Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) at the Tarzan Jetty, Lagos. He said all over the world, no country that wants to do well in tourism and transport neglects water transportation, saying it is a complementary mode of mobility.
He said: “A tourist has three means of movement: by air, by road and by water. I want to use this opportunity to encourage travellers to patronise aquatic tourism or water-based travel, which is the most interesting aspect of tourism. For instance, more people travel to Hawaii because of Wakiki Beach in Honolulu as well as Miami in Florida because of beaches. Here in West Africa, the Gambia, one of the smallest countries in the region attracts more international tourists because of the Banjul beach.
“Activities that can be embarked upon in water tourism include swimming, fishing, boat cruise, diving, water skiing, canoeing, boat regatta and many others.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on government at all levels to pay greater attention to water transportation and tourism. The operators in water-based tourism sub-sector need greater encouragement and the enabling environment to operate.”
Amachree also called on government to build fuel stations at waterfronts across the country that would service operators of water transportation. He said the issue of building filling stations to service boat operators in water based tourism has been on for many years. The government needs to act by providing these operators with fuel stations instead of carrying jerry cans in search of fuel.”
He commended the Lagos state government for their efforts to open up the waterways and urged the state to partner with ATBOWATON to further improve the water transportation in the state. “The Lagos State government has done much in building modern jetties, but they should partner with boat operators to further open up the water ways for safe travel on water and greater usage of the lagoons and the ocean.”
Amachree charged ATBOWATON as a body to reach out and involve other riverine areas of the federation. His words: “I advise you to reach out and encourage water based tourism all over the country, and to include riverine areas of Nigeria in the association. Places to be included are Lokoja, Kogi State; Okitipupa, Ondo State; Twon-Brass, Bayelsa State; Argungu waterfront, Kebbi State, Oguta Lake, Imo State, Sapele waterfront, Delta State, Kono waterfront, Ogoni, Rivers State; Kainji Dam, Niger State; Port Harcourt tourist beach, Rivers State; Badagry waterfront in Lagos; Nike Lake, Enugu; Bagauda Lake, Kano; Kaduna River waterfront, and many others.”
National President of ATBOWATON, Mr. Tarzan Gani Balogun, said it was in recognition of the tremendous contributions of Chief Mike Amachree that the boat operators decided to hold the special event in his honour. Tarzan said Amachree has been the galvanizing force in the promotion and development of tourism in Nigeria, and he had been of tremendous help to tourism industry practitioners all over the country for many years.
Dr. Meshileya, called on the government to empower the boat operators to improve on their services on water. He called for loans to help them purchase boats and meet other needs.
Responding, managing director of Lagos State Ferry Services, Mr. Paul Kalejaiye, promised to work with the operators on how to help them secure loans and generally improve on their services.
Chief Amachree was later taken on a boat cruise to Tarkwa Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and other parts of Lagos with, Mr. Jemi Alade leading the tour.

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