THE old-car number plates carry the inscription beloved of the people of Plateau State in central Nigeria : ''Land Of Peace And Tourism''.

YEARS of spiralling violence have rocked the region of outstanding natural beauty. But tired of the unrest, young hikers have decided to revive the slogan.

Every weekend, Andrew Niegwan and his friends defy the insecurity to chart new trails and kick-start tourism in the breathtaking lush countryside around the state capital Jos.

''We now have over 60 hiking locations and we are still discovering some more,'' Niagwan says as he hikes nearing the top of the Shere Hills, a mountain range that not so long ago attracted tourists from across Nigeria.

Holding a can of white spray paint, Niagwan draws arrows on stones to mark the fresh trail.

Up ahead, a guide hacks through the dense vegetation, his machete flying in great arcs to reveal the path.

''For years, people used to avoid the area, but thanks to us the hiking fever is back,'' Niagwan, a tall psychology graduate in the thirties, says proudly. The nature enthusiast created the Jos Plateau Hikers Club in 2013 with his 82-year old French friend Yves Gattepaille, who has been walking the region for decades.

So popular are the excursions that there is ''a burst of new clubs to keep up with demand.

Now newcomers like ''The Hike Team'', ''Jos Hike It'' and ''The Wayfarers of Jos'' are also organising weekly walks in the hills.

''During the crisis with the curfew we have to stay indoors and the Internet has been the best companion,'' says 26-year old hiker Metou Kwallo.

''We are tired of violence. We can't be always living in fear.'' [Agencies]

The Honor and Serving of the latest Global operational Research on Tourism continues. 


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