BUSINESS Using tourism to turn Nigeria’s economy
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.
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.