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Domestic tourism as the silver-lining to economic development

Even before the advent of Boko Haram, Nigeria has always been a hard sell to any pleasure seeking tourist. The infrastructural morass which Nigerians have become inured to still leaves many a visitor with a very sore impression of the country. This explains the flaks Nigeria gets on websites like Trip Advisor an interactive travel website that assists customers in gathering travel information and reviews of hotels across countries. While many Nigerians who have lived with epileptic electric supplies all their lives have adjusted around these power outages, it has deterred many visitors to the country. The word of mouth referral has led to lots of negative reviews around travelling to Nigeria which creates more harmful spirals. This explains why the bulk of foreign travels to Nigeria are for business trips. Pleasure seekers seek alternative destinations in West Africa like Ghana, Gambia and Senegal. However, as more Nigerians shun traditional holiday spots like the US and London owing to cost consideration and visa hassles for new destinations across West Africa, Nigeria comes out the loser for two major reasons. While more visits by Nigerians across the region will ultimately lead to good as it enhances integration and fosters business ties in the long run, the lack of reciprocal visits by citizens of these countries creates an imbalance in the numbers that puts additional pressure on the foreign exchange position.

One way out of increasing tourism traffic in Nigeria is by promoting and deepening domestic tourism. Another way is by encouraging members of the Nigerian diaspora back home for their holidays.

According to the Tourism Master Plan, while the incidence of domestic leisure travel may be low, the sheer size of Nigeria’s population means that there is a significant contribution to the demand for tourism services from domestic travel activity. The revenue value of this impact is unknown but the sheer number of Nigerians who travel to Ghana alone for the Easter and Christmas holidays is a pointer to the lost income from domestic tourism. Holiday destinations like Cross River and states with slave routes need to do more to attract domestic holiday makers by increasing scale which will serve to lower cost in the long run and increasing investments in recreational infrastructure. Government spending on travel has also helped to prop the hospitality sector. The revenue generated from travel within the country by employees and staff of Federal Government departments and agencies generates a demand for an estimated US$68m/N8.8b of transport and hospitality sectors. State governments also make a considerable contribution to the transport and hospitality sector in the undertaking of official travel activities. The revenue value of this impact is unknown. How the current fixation on government’s overheads on travelling will affect the sector still remains to be seen. 

Some Tourism Sites in Nigeria


The Site

Natural (Physical) Attractions:

Assop Falls, Jos, Plateau State:

The water gushes from an impressive height providing a beautiful sight, for picnics, swimming and outdoor parties, chalets are provided for guests 

Agbokim Waterfalls, Cross River State

The falls are an impressive sight, situated in a pleasant forest surrounding.   

Zuma Rock, Suleja, Niger State.

The rock is a major land mark on the way to Kaduna. It is a natural sight and has the potential of becoming a tourist center.

Foot Bridge at Abraka Turf, Delta State

Consist of a sandy beach on the river with tables and umbrellas, boat hire facilities and canoe facilities. The water is safe for swimming. It has an attractive setting; there are also lawn tennis, squash rackets, badminton courts, well-apportioned accommodation, a spacious conference center and appetizing cuisine.

Ox-bow Lake, Awe, Nassarawa State

Olumo Rock, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Jos, Wildlife Park,

Old Oyo National Park,

Wild-Life based Attractions:

Yankari Games Reserve, Bauchi

Peacock at Abuja Park, Abuja

Obudu Cattle Ranch, Cross River State

The resort is on the Obudu and is over 1,524m with cool and pleasant climate. The landscape has rolling grassland, deep-wooded valleys and waterfalls. It has sport facilities such as tennis court, squash racket court, golf course and horse riding. There are chalets accommodations.

The Kainji Lake, National Park, Oban Forest in Cross River State

Gashaka Gumti National Parks

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Nigerian Tourism’s Foreign Exchange potentials could rival that of oil sector

It is not in doubt that the foreign exchange potentials of the Nigerian tourism industry are enormous. In a number of developing countries a significant proportion of gross domestic product is generated by activities designed to satisfy local and international tourism, which depending on the level of development could represent an important export activity. Globally, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) predicts that the number of international tourists will reach almost 1.6billion by the year 2020 (as opposed to 565m in 1995), and that international tourism receipts will exceed US$2.0trillion. The estimated growth of world international tourism arrivals of 4.5% per annum will pose enormous challenges and opportunities for many countries such as Nigeria.

At the Tourism Conference held in Vancouver, Canada in 1988, it was estimated that the tourism arrivals for the year would be 400m while the projected revenue would rank third among all exports; accounting for 6% of total world export and representing 25% of international trade and services. The estimates also showed that international travel would contribute almost 10-12% of the world’s gross product or US$2.0trillion in 1988.

Moreover, a recent survey by the World Tourism Organization on receipts from international Tourism, 1977-1981, showed the contributions of Tourism to the economic well-being of some African States including Nigeria. In 1981, the revenue accruing to Kenya was US$240m, Morocco US$440m, Tunisia US$581m and Nigeria US$55m, representing 20.2%, 17.9%, 26.5% and 0.3% of total exports respectively.   

Nigerians in Diaspora can help to promote Tourism at home

Nigeria’s quest for foreign tourists will face critical hurdles which only frustrate the objectives. There are numerous reasons why foreigners are not persuaded to travel to Nigeria except for business. The legion of travel warnings on the internet around Nigeria will scare even the brave hearted. In simple terms, foreigners are uncertain about spending hard earned and long term planned holidays to Nigeria amidst the hospitality, warmth and positive reviews of other regional destinations. However, personal ties make holidays easier and in this case, the Nigerian diaspora can fill this gap. The diaspora network have better flow of information and can easily sieve between the exaggerations and half-truths stalking Nigeria on the internet. A Nigerian in Chicago planning his holidays for Calabar can easily decipher the difference between Maiduguri and his planned destination. He can also call a cousin at home to understand how his planned holiday destination is exposed to a Boko Haram attack in Kano. Members of the diaspora can also blend well amongst the locals and do not attract extra security risks to them based on skin colour or ignorance of the local community. A tourism marketing strategy aimed at the Nigerian diaspora could help bridge the investment gap and lay the building blocks for a more developed hospitality industry. 

  • Written by The Analyst
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