– 7 Questions with ‘Funmi Oyatogun of TVP Adventures
If you’re in need a one-stop shop for travel and adventure within Nigeria and Africa, you should check TVP Adventures out. Providing opportunities for nature tours, cultural and historical adventures, TVP offers this on the platform of easy and affordable group tours. TVP Adventures is about delivering creative solutions for those who want explore and see more of Africa.
At the helm of affairs is ‘Funmi Oyatogun; geographer, environmentalist, writer and public speaker among other things. An adventurer and traveller herself, she has put this passion into creating a unique solution for tourism in Nigeria and the African continent. Aside from running TVP adventures, she also functions in the role of experience designer.
We caught up with her to learn more about what African travel looks like today with TVP Adventures in the mix of it.
How did TVP Adventures start? Tell us bit more about the inside gist of your travel outfit that we don’t know?
I had been blogging about travel with a focus on food for about a year. As I wrote about new places, people became more interested in the blog. Then, I moved to Nigeria and naturally, started writing more about Nigerian places. I realized that many people had questions about where to go, what to do and how to travel. So, I thought about organizing tours to attend to some of these travel needs. Then, as I thought about it, I got a call from a reader of the blog who was introduced by a mutual friend. He said he was looking for somewhere to go for Independence Day, 2016. I told him that I had considered organizing tours but was unsure about whether people would be interested. Well, he said he would be. So, I put together a trip to Olumo Rock and shared it with him. I also announced it on the blog and to some friends. He didn’t book the tour but a small bus full of others did. That’s how we began!
What kind of travel package can the average (really average) Nigerian person, family or maybe newlywed couple – anyone working with a strict budget -get at TVP Adventures?
Our trips are all-inclusive packages for leisure, adventure or education so while they are not luxurious offerings, they will most likely not be sought after by someone who is on a very strict budget. We offer packages that simplify the travel process and make exploration more affordable.
TVP Adventures is not just limited to tours of well-known locations; you also design adventures and custom trips. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes, we take pride in being one of the few tour operators to offer truly bespoke tours off the beaten path. There is something for everyone at TVP Adventures. Our regular city tours and educational excursions are popular. We are also focused on designing creative and meaningful travel experiences within Nigeria and Africa. Our mission is to break through African borders and facilitate group, corporate and educational travel experiences in the spirit of adrenaline and adventure. TVP Adventures is forging its way to lead the pack of adventure designers coming out of Nigeria.
What would you say about the Nigerian travel/tourism industry? Are things getting better? What are the challenges so far?
The Nigerian travel and tourism industry is still teething but we can no longer be ignored. A good number of serious players are stepping into the space and collectively, our voice is beginning to receive some attention from both customers and the government. Things are getting better, even though the pace is excruciatingly slow. The challenges we face are similar to those of other industries – poor attention to regulation by the government, lack of adequate infrastructure, et cetera. We also know how the inadequate representation of our country in global media has negatively affected tourism. These are challenges we are working day and night to overcome and we know that with consistency, we will begin to move mountains in Nigerian tourism.
You’re very passionate about the environment. I know that because my first awareness of Funmi Oyatogun was through Bailiff Africa. Do you think travel can help Africans become more sensitive and concerned about the sustaining the environment and preserving nature?
Yes, yes and yes. Travelling is exposure and that’s the most comprehensive way to learn. As a geographer, I know how important it is to observe and analyze the world and mutual impact between people and their environment. So, on trips, people have a first hand experience of the world – not just a cookie-cutter tour that shows them the country through manufactured lenses. We go, we see, we feel, we learn. Even relaxation trips to islands can become a great way to understand how important ocean protection is to tourism and the economy. The impact on tourists is not usually direct but many people return with a new found understanding and appreciation of the world.
Give us one location each that you would personally recommend as a must-see in Nigeria and Africa respectively?
This is hard to do – choose only one place. So, I must say that I would encourage everyone to start exploring the country by visiting the attractions in the state they reside. That’s always a good place to start. Nonetheless, everyone should visit Erin Ijesha Waterfalls in Osun State and Kenya in East Africa. Both places will amaze everyone and are good for all demographics.
TVP Adventures in the next 5-10 years. What and where do you envision that to be?
In 5 years, I hope our work would have brought thousands of foreigners through our beautiful country and taken thousands of Nigerians across Nigeria and Africa. I also hope that we would be at the top of the game of adventure travel on this side of the world, in 5 and 10 years.