That Nigeria does not have a minister for tourism since independence seemingly look like an intentional strategy to fail the tourism of the largest black nation in the world. It is a neon light displaying the no premium we place on tourism, and the lack of enthusiasm cum lip service on our sorry tourism sector.

Whilst for many countries, even in Africa, tourism provides not only an alternate earner for the country, but over forty percent of their GDP. Tourism also provide one in every ten jobs across the world. For sub-sahara Africa, it is a year round earner due to our warm weather, and a big public relation machine that provides huge one-on -one, and see it yourself advantage. Our all sphere, current loss in tourism is too huge and cannot be calculated. We do not earn from visit by foreigners, and we lose top dollars from our citizens who always go out to spend.

With oil revenue diminishing daily, our agriculture sector almost at subsistence level, and most natural resources under our soil fully untapped, is it not about time we get serious with our tourism? 

We are not talking about getting standby generators for our shameful museums, giving them a new coat of paint or providing proper lighting for artifacts, we are talking a holistic approach that can work in a short time. It is not rocket science or uranium enrichment, many countries in Africa have done it.

Covid-19 forcefully shut down some of the major destinations across the world. Nigerian middle class and elite were forced to stay within as many borders have been closed.  Do we see the blessing in disguise for our tourism sector or we await for the world to open and everyone can start jetting out again? Arising from the current ease on lock down, from June people who are ‘home paranoid’ would be thinking of change of environment. Obviously they would be afraid to return to Europe and their other playgrounds for now, what are we doing to make sure they would not be thinking Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and some of the visa on arrival African countries.  How do we make sure they are thinking Obudu, Yankari, and host of other ready place in Nigeria? Mark it, the world would start opening up June or July and would travel!

For travel, the world will be turning to Africa first, and to many countries who did not record very high rates of covid 19 infections and death. The urge to travel and see new places for travelers is like a steroid, but they will be looking for destinations they could feel safer and not borne the fear of contraction every seconds. I belong to many travel communities, and already people are talking about post covid 19 travels!  The human race must travel!

There are loads of pristine water falls in Nigeria, how many do you know? Nigeria can host hunting expeditions in our many forest, gorilla trekking, mountain climbing, fishing tours, palm wine tasting experience, booming festivals, themed slave-trade tours, and the list is endless. We should have cruise ship coming because there are lots of things to offer, and our local boats should be filled every weekend! We can’t for now compete with Dubai, Europe, America for theme parks, and even city breaks, but on nature why not?

So what must the government and boards do?

Organize, put platforms in place, do government – private sector ownership, run it as profit oriented gig. The civil servants are a major problem, yes I said! Ease them out of our tourism gradually. They are do nothing, salary earning individuals. In practical terms, government involvement is not jamboree and cultural troupes, bringing ‘derelict relics’ to venues of events, launching this and that, making speeches, travelling everywhere with huge funding.  Involvements should be liaising the industry especially by the board, facilitating fam tours for foreign travel agencies, facilitating financing for industry people, trainings, helping to create the environment where local agencies are able to sell Nigerian packages to their counter parts abroad.

I have done a few inbound tours and they are profitable! I hope someday  when I attend  industry meets abroad, an agency will ask me for Nigerian packages  and I can receive email request for Nigerian tours from abroad every day without sweating much, same way I do every day to fulfil the request of my clients here. 

Consequently, our taxis, hotels, tour guide, destinations, and government can earn from the big pie tourism offers to the rest of the world. Only a Nigerian who does not know Nigeria would say we do not have places to go within!

We can learn from what South Africa, Dubai, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, did with Nigerian travel agencies, and how they got them hauling Nigerians by the truck loads to these countries!

A booming Nigerian tourism is possible post Covid 19.

Hafees Keshinro is the CEO of Butterfly Tourism Nigeria. He is a travel expert and ecotourism aficionado


Post a comment