Babs_Naomi_OtunbaThe Honorable Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation recently visited the United States as a part of his mission to promote his country to the American public. He visited several major cities where he talked about his tourism initiatives before making a final stop in Atlanta, where he received the ‘Icon of Hope Award’ from the King Center’s A.D. King Foundation.

Director Runsewe came to Atlanta to receive this award at the invitation of Dr. Babs Olusegun Onabanjo, president/CEO of the A.D. King Foundation, an association that teaches and promotes non-violence conflict resolutions. Dr. Onabanjo described Runsewe as a new visionary who is determined and committed to making a significant imprint on the development of tourism in our great country Nigeria. “President Jonathan Goodluck could not have chosen a better competent and ideological director general in the person other than Otunba Olusegun Runsewe,” said Dr. Onabanjo.

Comparing the work that Director Runsewe is doing in human progress to that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he went on to say that Otunba is a man of this time making real the promise of democracy, and transforming Nigeria into that imaginary oasis of beauty that Mother-Nature has already endowed. “Otunba has won many awards, but this special award entitled “The Icon of Hope in Africa” presented at this hallowed place, the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is in recognition of your commitment to the development of tourism in Nigeria and Africa in general,” said Dr. Onabanjo.

Also welcoming and honoring Runsewe on behalf of the A D King Foundation was its chairwoman, Naomi Barber King, the sister- in-law to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to the King Center, and I hope that you will spend time to visit the birth home and the Historic Archive. We are delighted to honor you with a special award in recognition of your dedication and commitment to the development of tourism in Africa,” said Ms. King, who later toured the King center and the birth home of Dr. King with Runsewe and a few other delegates. 

AD_king_center_007Runsewe’s visit to Atlanta was the last leg of a nine-day road show throughout the U.S. in an effort to bolster tourism to Nigeria. The tour, which included stops in Jacksonville, Fla., Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., featured visits with significant representatives from U.S. media, sports and travel organizations. During the Nigeria Tourism road show, delegates met with American contacts including: the PGA Tour, to discuss developing golf tourism opportunities in Nigeria; Nigerian basketball players Nicky Anosike and Nneka Ogwumike from the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS News and several other media outlets and tour operators and associations. Runsewe also met with leadership from the Corporate Council on Africa the Honorable Josh Cohen, mayor of Annapolis, capital of the state of Maryland.

 “We are delighted and proud to introduce Nigeria’s rich assets to so many noteworthy people in the U.S. market,” said Runsewe. “This road show has been a wonderful experience and we see many great things to come between the U.S. and Nigeria for travelers of all types, from business to pleasure. Runsewe said the Nigeria offers visitors spectacular beaches, unique wildlife, a vibrant natural environment of rainforests, mountain ranges, hundreds of lakes, rivers and waterfalls and vast expanses of unspoiled nature.

In an exclusive interview in Atlanta with AfricanDiasporaTourism.com, Runsewe revealed that his long-range overall tourism goal was to make Nigeria the number one tourism destination in Africa. He said that Nigeria has as much in tourism potentials as Dubai or Egypt. “Nigeria is just as blessed with natural beauty and culture heritage endowments that can put us on top in terms of a tourism destination. “Nigeria also offers fascinating cultural heritage experiences as well as the rapidly growing cities for entertainment and adventure,” he said. Runsew went on to explain how he would be reaching out to the African American tourist through promoting the theme, ‘Nigeria: Our History is Your History.’babsOtunba

It was in 2008 in Spain that Runsewe began to organize the ‘African Tourism Promotion Initiative” with other African leaders. With a mission to promote the continent’s tourism destinations, especially in West Africa, Runsewe was elected president.  He says that the campaign, ‘Nigeria: Our History is Your History’ aimed at people of African descent in the Diaspora will fall under this initiative. “We strongly believe that the history of African Americans can be traced to Nigeria,” explains Runsewe.   

Runsewe is confident that through the implementation of tourism initiatives and human capital in conjunction with the country’s environmental and culture endowments, the world will be able to experience the beauty of Nigeria. 

The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) is responsible for developing and facilitating tourism resources within Nigeria, as well as promoting inbound tourism from around the world to Nigeria, “the Pride of Africa.” For more information about the NTDC, visit www.tourism.gov.ng.

Pictured: (1) Prof.Babs Olusegun Onabanjo, Ms. Naomi Barber King & Director Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, (2) Dir. Runsewe and Ms. King (3) ADT Editor Kitty Pope(l) w/ delegation.