How to at­tract more vis­i­tors to Nige­ria

To ef­fec­tively grow the travel and tourism sec­tor in Nige­ria, we need own­er­ship and co­op­er­a­tion from gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, the pri­vate sec­tor, and all cit­i­zens.

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents -

Hausse Hospi­tal­ity, a com­pany I run, re­cently pub­lished a re­port on the African travel and tourism sec­tor. We had also con­ducted a sur­vey in which we asked peo­ple about their at­ti­tudes to­wards trav­el­ing to, and within African des­ti­na­tions. The over­whelm­ing re­sponse was that peo­ple do want to travel to African des­ti­na­tions.

How­ever, there is just not enough sup­port and in­for­ma­tion pro­vided to po­ten­tial vis­i­tors. When these po­ten­tial vis­i­tors start re­search­ing travel op­tions, the in­ad­e­quate in­for­ma­tion, poor in­ter­na­tional im­age, dif­fi­cul­ties in ob­tain­ing visas, high flight prices, and poor travel con­nec­tions make des­ti­na­tions like Nige­ria and other African coun­tries rel­a­tively unattrac­tive.

It is im­por­tant to note that the travel and tourism sec­tor does not only in­clude leisure trav­el­ers look­ing for hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions. It also in­volves those who visit var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions for var­i­ous pur­poses, in­clud­ing busi­ness and in­vest­ment, pro­fes­sional meet­ings and con­fer­ences, so­cial events, fam­ily and friend vis­its, and so on. In ad­di­tion, the sec­tor is not only mea­sured by rev­enues from flight tick­ets and ho­tel stays. The World Travel & Tourism Coun­cil cap­tures di­rect, in­di­rect and in­duced im­pacts when they con­duct re­search on the sec­tor.

The travel and tourism sec­tor’s con­tri­bu­tion to GDP usu­ally in­cludes monies spent by trav­el­ers and tourists on

ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­porta­tion, en­ter­tain­ment and at­trac­tions. Eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in the sec­tor also in­clude in­vest­ment spend­ing, gov­ern­ment spend­ing, and the im­pact of such spend­ing on those who are em­ployed di­rectly and in­di­rectly in the sec­tor.

Nige­ria does not cur­rently re­ceive a sub­stan­tial share of the hol­i­day­maker mar­ket, and to be clear, I ac­knowl­edge that the econ­omy is not ready to be mar­keted as a ma­jor leisure tourist des­ti­na­tion. How­ever, Nige­ria does al­ready at­tract trav­el­ers who visit for some of the other pur­poses men­tioned ear­lier. And the coun­try cer­tainly needs to do bet­ter at pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture to ac­com­mo­date these ex­ist­ing mar­kets, as well as to en­cour­age vis­i­tors to travel here more of­ten and stay longer.

Master­Card has pub­lished its Global Des­ti­na­tion Cities In­dex (GDCI) for the past nine years. In the lat­est 2018 re­port, it ranked 162 global cities. The re­port shows that of all the cities in the sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa re­gion, La­gos saw the high­est num­ber of vis­i­tors in 2017. The com­mer­cial cap­i­tal of Nige­ria hosted 1.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2017, and they stayed for seven days on av­er­age. These vis­i­tors largely came from the United States, United King­dom and China. And they were also re­ported to have gen­er­ated US$589 mil­lion in in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor rev­enues – spend­ing, on av­er­age, US$57 per day.

La­gos re­ceived more vis­i­tors than the two cities in the num­ber two and three spots com­bined – Dakar had 0.8 mil­lion vis­i­tors and Kam­pala wel­comed 0.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors. Nairobi and Ac­cra tied for the fourth and fifth po­si­tions with 0.4 mil­lion vis­i­tors each.

Glob­ally, the in­dex was topped by Bangkok, Lon­don, and Paris, cities that had 20 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, 19.8 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, and 17.4 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, re­spec­tively. There are no African cities in the top 20 po­si­tions on this lat­est Master­Card in­dex.

Ac­cord­ing to Master­Card, the in­dex un­der­scores “the im­por­tance of ro­bust in­fra­struc­ture, both busi­ness and leisure at­trac­tions and strong lo­cal cul­ture.” La­gos and Nige­ria have a strong lo­cal cul­ture. We could have ro­bust in­fra­struc­ture as well as busi­ness and leisure at­trac­tions if the gov­ern­ment and other stake­hold­ers can muster the will to grow the travel and tourism sec­tor.

With­out a doubt, La­gos and Nige­ria are im­por­tant in the na­tional, re­gional, and in­ter­na­tional con­texts. The coun­try needs to bet­ter po­si­tion it­self to re­ceive the nec­es­sary at­ten­tion by im­prov­ing travel and tourism in­fra­struc­ture. Do­ing so will pos­i­tively im­pact gov­ern­ment rev­enues, in­crease em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and ul­ti­mately grow and di­ver­sify the na­tional GDP.

To ef­fec­tively grow the travel and tourism sec­tor in Nige­ria, we need own­er­ship and co­op­er­a­tion from gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, the pri­vate sec­tor, and all cit­i­zens. Specif­i­cally, the coun­try needs the fol­low­ing in place:

Prac­ti­cal and im­ple­mentable poli­cies. These will en­cour­age in­vest­ment to grow and thrive in the re­lated in­dus­tries. Safety and se­cu­rity mea­sures. These will guar­an­tee the lives of res­i­dents and vis­i­tors alike.

Com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture. The in­dus­try re­quires the sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture that only the gov­ern­ment can pro­vide. This in­cludes ev­ery­thing from in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity, con­struct­ing and main­tain­ing road net­works, build­ing and up­grad­ing air­port fa­cil­i­ties, des­ig­nat­ing tourist and cul­tural sites, and, in­vest­ing in train­ing in­sti­tu­tions.

Ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in trade and re­gional blocs. The ECOWAS bloc has

ex­isted since it was formed by a treaty in 1975, with the ob­jec­tive of pro­mot­ing eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion amongst its mem­ber-na­tions. How­ever, be­sides the visa-free ac­cess to mem­ber-na­tions, the av­er­age Nige­rian na­tional is un­likely to be able to list any other ben­e­fits.

Ease of vis­i­tor en­try. The gov­ern­ment needs to im­ple­ment im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies that do not make it un­nec­es­sar­ily dif­fi­cult for non-cit­i­zens to gain le­gal en­try into the coun­try. We need stream­lined and con­sis­tent visa poli­cies, and more ef­fi­cient ways to process these visas. Nige­rian em­bassies abroad are no­to­ri­ous for in­ef­fi­cien­cies and in­con­sis­ten­cies that turn away the av­er­age per­son. And when peo­ple do brave it out through that first layer, they are met with more of the same un­friendly at­ti­tudes at their first point of en­try into the coun­try. Even Nige­ri­ans abroad are sub­jected to the same in­ef­fi­cien­cies, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for those in the Di­as­pora to visit the coun­try. Ac­count­abil­ity. This is needed across the board, and es­pe­cially among the staff who im­ple­ment these visa and im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. Anec­do­tally, a par­tic­i­pant at a con­fer­ence hosted in La­gos, took to so­cial me­dia to nar­rate their ex­pe­ri­ence of ob­tain­ing a visa on ar­rival at the La­gos Air­port. They were charged a higher amount than was ad­ver­tised. And upon voic­ing a com­plaint, they were told there was no op­tion but to pay the re­quested amount or be sent back home. As is typ­i­cal for most vis­i­tors upon en­try at the air­port, this vis­i­tor was also ac­costed by var­i­ous staff ask­ing for “gifts.” Sto­ries like these per­pet­u­ate neg­a­tive im­ages and taint the ex­pe­ri­ences of vis­i­tors to the coun­try. Nige­ri­ans are tired of telling vis­i­tors and each other to “take it like that” or count it as part of the Nige­rian ex­pe­ri­ence. We need more trans­parency in the han­dling of visa charges and friend­lier air­port per­son­nel, to avoid sit­u­a­tions like these. Ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. The coun­try needs in­sti­tu­tions that fo­cus on train­ing in­di­vid­u­als to work or start their own busi­nesses in ar­eas of hospi­tal­ity, trans­porta­tion, travel and tour op­er­a­tions, food and bev­er­age, and so on. This is by no means an ex­haus­tive list of what is re­quired to grow the in­dus­try. But these are some of the foun­da­tional ar­eas that will en­cour­age not only more vis­its but also have more vis­i­tors stay longer. Ad­dress­ing these ar­eas will also fa­cil­i­tate rev­enue gen­er­a­tion from the sec­tor and im­prove the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional im­age. Most im­por­tantly, we need the buy-in and com­mit­ment of Nige­ri­ans to be bet­ter hosts and pro­vide bet­ter cus­tomer ser­vice, whether as gov­ern­ment work­ers, pri­vate em­ploy­ees or busi­ness own­ers.

Damilola Ade­poju is a hospi­tal­ity and travel en­thu­si­ast. She has in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in real es­tate de­vel­op­ment, ho­tel op­er­at­ing and in­vest­ment firms in Europe and North Amer­ica, a travel tech startup, as well as with a lead­ing African hospi­tal­ity in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory firm. Damilola has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in over 25 African mar­kets. She is cur­rently build­ing a bou­tique hospi­tal­ity firm that pro­vides ad­vi­sory and op­er­a­tional ser­vices to de­vel­op­ers and in­vestors in the hospi­tal­ity and travel space. Damilola can be reached on Twit­ter @DamiAde­poju or via email at [email protected]­hos­pi­tal­ity.com.

The gov­ern­ment needs to im­ple­ment im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies that do not make it un­nec­es­sar­ily dif­fi­cult for nonci­t­i­zens to gain le­gal en­try into the coun­try.

A view of Mur­tala Muhammed In­ter­na­tional Air­port, La­gos

Source: Master­Card, Hausse Hospi­tal­ity

Hausse: Ris­ing. In­creas­ing. El­e­vat­ing. www.hausse­hos­pi­tal­ity.com

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