As part of ongoing effort to make the incoming government of President-elect Mohammadu Buhari succeed to the benefit of all Nigerians. I’m suggesting a familiar ground yet to be fully broken and a competent individual with the ability to successfully brake the ground if hired by the government.
My interest in Nigeria tourism sector is based on knowledge in the hospitality industry and five (eventful) years experience of working as Sales Support Advisor with one of the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world, which owns travel agencies, hotels, airlines, cruise ships and retail stores.
Nigeria is blessed with huge and untapped tourism potentials that can be a major revenue generation base for the economy apart from oil.
The annual international tourist arrival (people travelling around the world) in 2014 was over 1.1 billion with export earnings higher than $1.4 trillion in 2013. The whole of Africa could only grab a negligible little more than 56 million (of 1.1 billion). Top ten destinations, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Swaziland and Tanzania (Egypt is classified under Middle East in UNWTO scheme) recorded more than 36.6 million (out of 56 million). While Nigeria with all her natural endowment, cultural diversity and population strength, could only get a fraction of the remaining less than 19.4 million tourists (trailing far behind Cape Verde,Zanzibar,Rwanda,Botswana,Namibia and Gambia) with little or nothing to show in revenue.
What attractions are in other countries that are not in Nigeria with rich cultural and historical background? There are 7,000 tourism sites across the country according to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC). Despite the huge tourism potential, Nigeria is not where it should be in tourism business as a result of proven lack of seriousness at developing the sector due to perennial policy somersault, lack of knowledge in tourism business, and inability to package clear-cut tourism products.
This is where the creative ability of a global brand builder and a world traveller like Basorun Ayobamidele Momodu is highly required.
Is Dele Momodu the only man (out of 170 million Nigerians) with the ability to successfully lead the Nigeria’s tourism industry and chat a way forward for the industry? The answer is an emphatic NO.
Dele Momodu happens to be a worthy son of Africa and super brand builder whose name readily comes to mind based on a track record of showcasing the best of Africa by promoting and dishing out the most glamorous pictures of the lifestyles of the rich and famous Africans through his Ovation International magazine. Having attended many social and cultural events in every continent of the world, Dele Momodu has become a global citizen and friend of many nations. He’s a media and entertainment icon. A man no business has ever failed in his hands.
Tourism is a major source of economic diversification for many countries. Jamaica is making so much revenue from Jammin’ in Jamaica and Bob Marley Tour. How much revenue is Nigeria making from Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s tour? Obudu Cattle Ranch is still one of the best resorts in Africa. The clean beaches in Lagos and Niger Delta are quite unique. The Ikogosi Warm Spring stands out. The natural water falls are breathtaking. The Borgu, Falgore, Kashimbila, Ohosu and Zugurma game reserves are world class. The Mambilla Plateau is outstanding. The unique festivals from Durbar, Argungu, Eyo, Osun Oshogbo, Olosunta in Ikere-Ekiti, Ogun (god’s of iron) in Ondo, Calabar Carnival, Lagos Carnival and Bayelsa international Jazz Festival. To mention but a few. The Badagry slave route among other sites, monument and other relics of slavery are remarkable sites of historical importance. All these and many more are worth packaging with the global tourist’s dollar in mind.
Many have decried the insecurity in some parts of the country caused by negligence of government, but countries that have more serious security challenges such as Mexico, Jamaica, South Africa, Egypt, Brazil, India, Tanzania and Kenya still receive millions of tourists from across the world.
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai when opening the Spain Global Tourism Forum in Madrid said “Over the past years, tourism has proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to the economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs. This has been true for destinations all around the world, but particularly for Europe, as the region struggles to consolidate its way out of one of the worst economic periods in its history,”
The incoming government as well as the private sector operators must see tourism as a catalyst for employment and infrastructural development. The government must take the right steps beyond the usual cheap talk and wasteful cosmetic tourism campaigns by hiring a creative and competent hand with proven integrity and unblemished name to lead the tourism industry. The crash in oil prices and its toll on public expenditure has once again set up Nigeria’s tourist sites as beautiful brides.
By Ayo TruthIsBitter