BUSI­NESS Us­ing tourism to turn Nigeria’s econ­omy

Daily Trust - - INDUSTRY - By Mustapha Suleiman

Travel and tourism in­dus­try has, over the years, be­came a eco­nomic sec­tor, con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cantly to the GDP of sev­eral na­tions.

Most re­cent data ob­tained from the World Travel and Tourism Coun­cil in­di­cates that cur­rent Global Tourism con­tri­bu­tion to GDP is ap­proach­ing USD 7 Tril­lion, ac­count­ing for 9.3% of to­tal global GDP.

This fig­ure, based on fore­casts, is ex­pected to have an aver­age an­nual growth of 4.4%. The same data­base also sug­gests that the in­dus­try ac­counts for a to­tal di­rect and in­di­rect em­ploy­ment con­tri­bu­tion of 261,394,000 jobs, ac­count­ing for 8.7% of the global fig­ure with an es­ti­mated an­nual growth rate of 2.4%.

It is pos­si­ble to at­tribute these cred­its to the in­dus­try be­cause start­ing from com­mence­ment, to the con­clu­sion of a tourist’s travel ad­ven­ture, value is added across the value chain im­pact­ing var­i­ous sec­tors such as Trans­porta­tion, Restaurants, Ho­tels, In­for­ma­tion and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions e.t.c., thus, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Nigeria’s Tourism In­dus­try

Nigeria hav­ing a pop­u­la­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 170 mil­lion people with di­ver­sity in Cul­ture, Eth­nic Groups, an ar­ray of Tourist At­trac­tions with var­i­ous Busi­ness and In­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, is en­dowed with the po­ten­tials of ben­e­fit­ing from the sig­nif­i­cant Eco­nomic div­i­dends this in­dus­try has to of­fer. There are sev­eral op­tions of at­trac­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties for tourists, both do­mes­tic and for­eign, to travel and ex­plore Nigeria for dif­fer­ent pur­poses such as: Faith, Ed­u­ca­tion, Sports, Busi­ness, Fes­ti­vals, Car­ni­vals and Hol­i­days.

Tourism Po­ten­tials

The do­mes­tic tourism mar­ket has very high rev­enue and job cre­ation po­ten­tials. If we as­sume, for in­stance, that 10% of our 170 mil­lion people travel lo­cally for busi­ness, leisure, cul­ture, re­li­gion or sports an­nu­ally and the spend only 10% of Nigeria’s per Capita in­come of USD2,420 an­nu­ally, we have a USD 4 bil­lion dol­lar do­mes­tic tourism mar­ket.

Sim­i­larly, the size of the Di­as­pora mar­ket is es­ti­mated at $3 bil­lion an­nu­ally should we pro­vide them with the right prod­uct mix.

These po­ten­tials are, how­ever, limited by var­i­ous chal­lenges which cut across var­i­ous seg­ments of the Tourism value chain in Nigeria.

In akeynote ad­dress de­liv­ered by the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Nige­rian Tourism De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, dur­ing the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) an­nual gen­eral meet­ing held in Abuja, re­cently, she noted with sad­ness that the avail­abil­ity of these key fac­tors are in­ad­e­quate in sup­ply ow­ing to the cur­rent deficit in rel­e­vant in­fra­struc­ture re­quired to sup­port this in­dus­try.

She said that the cur­rent se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion also poses a chal­lenge which tends to have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on the re­al­i­sa­tion of the in­dus­try’s full eco­nomic po­ten­tials.

Mbanefo said that in or­der to ad­dress this chal­lenge, the fol­low­ing key fac­tors ought to be con­sid­ered. Firstly, she said: “There is need to spa­tially im­prove so­cial over­head cap­i­tal per health, ed­u­ca­tion and wa­ter sup­ply around ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial tourism sites. Sec­ondly, cre­ate jobs and ac­cel­er­ate the cash­less econ­omy ini­tia­tive of the CBN. Thirdly, fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion is im­per­a­tive for youth, women and SME’s. Fourthly, there is the need to en­cour­age Do­mes­tic Tourism by spa­tially cov­er­ing in­fra­struc­ture deficits. Fifthly, there is the need to re­solve Mul­ti­ple Taxation for Tourism Oper­a­tors and to dras­ti­cally re­duce our car­bon foot­print and em­brace re­new­able tech­nolo­gies as levers for en­ergy se­cu­rity and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing our Tourism Brand.

“Sixthly, we need to rapidly im­prove Travel Se­cu­rity as a nec­es­sary con­di­tion for grow­ing both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional tourist traf­fic in Nigeria. Sev­enth, there is need for the recog­ni­tion of Project Life-cy­cle costs for Pub­lic Sec­tor projects and the po­ten­tial of PPP ar­range­ments to sus­tain­ably man­age To­tal Cost of Own­er­ship for projects.

Con­sid­er­ing the vo­latil­ity of Oil Rev­enues which is cur­rently a ma­jor source of the na­tion’s rev­enue, there is an ur­gent need to ac­tively har­ness this In­dus­try’s Eco­nomic po­ten­tials with a view to en­hanc­ing its con­tri­bu­tion to GDP.”

She stressed that if the dream of hav­ing a vi­brant tourism in the coun­try is to be re­alised, there is need to pull re­sources to­gether to­wards the en­hance­ment of rel­e­vant In­fra­struc­ture, Fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and na­tional se­cu­rity with a view to grow­ing the tourism value chain.

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