With the Naira slowly appreciating, more fascinating events are showing up on domestic tourism calendar and the Nigerian cuisine is no doubt attracting international reviews. But before we can successfully sell Nigerian tourism brand to the outside world, we must address the domestic market potential, secure the buy-in and confidence of Nigerians in the sector as well as get Nigerians themselves to be proud of their heritage. Omolola Itayemi writes on 6 Reasons why domestic tourism must thrive
Tourism is a major employer of labour and generates revenue for government as seen in other countries. It is a major contributor to their GDP. With Nigeria’s huge population, it will be foolhardy for us not to harness such. Domestic Tourism will no doubt enhance job creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation and reposition Nigeria as the preferred tourism destination in Sub-Saharan Africa, offering diverse world class tourism products geared towards contributing to the GDP through a transformation driven policy.
While not discountenancing international tourism, the need to advocate domestic travel is very important because it further unifies Nigerians as citizens of a country and helps us know more about our diverse cultures. Tourism is one product that can educate us more about our country. We need to inform more; Nigerians need to be told that Nigeria is a destination to be appreciated.
What the government needs to do is ensure better travel infrastructure and quality services when travelling by land, water or air across Nigeria, in order to afford a holiday within Nigeria.
Tourism ensures that investments in tourism infrastructure benefit the poor in the locality where they are sited while empowerment of women, youths and the underprivileged through tourism entrepreneurship would receive high priority. In this instance, organising our clusters will come naturally.
Tourism is the only activity that can put the federal and state government in charge of tourist spots on their feet.
Thanks to top events, some states have taken their tourism spots and sites a notch higher by rehabilitating or building them to international standards. There are uncountable resort centres with state of the art facilities in Nigeria which can match others in the world. Ikogosi Warm Springs Resorts, Inagbe Resorts and L’Meridien Ibom Golf Resort are some of them. Also, the tourism event calendar is becoming more robust as each year goes by attracting more regional and international participation.
Osun Osogbo festival, Calabar Festival, Mare Festival, Lagos Food Festival, Gidi Fest, Eyo festival, Black Heritage Festival are events that have proved that they could attract foreign tourists. Domestic travel is not completely unattractive as seen with events like Osun Osogbo and Calabar festivals where locals travel to where these events take place.
Nigeria has a better advantage over so many other countries to benefit from tourism. We have the advantage of population. Tourism contributes 10% to the global GDP but as at now, Nigerian is not fully benefiting from tourism like other countries.
Security issue is not peculiar to us. Israel has been dealing with terrorism since 1946 and there one of the top destination when it comes to religious tourism.
We have 36 states and the FCT, but some few states are facing this problem, do we now stop it because of these states? Go to Egypt and see how tourism is still striving in spite of their crises.
Tourism is still going on there just as in Kenya, Gambia and Senegal.
However, from modern airports to well managed vacation spots and tourist sites to affordable hotel rates and excellent customer service, we need to get it right. When it comes to spending one’s hard-earned money, no one wants excuses or near-misses when one can get a better deal.