The devastation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has come with a silver lining for Nigeria – an opportunity to look inwards and activate domestic tourism! As we battle the virus and work towards a cure or vaccine, we need to strategize on the ways to boost our economy especially with the issues with our hitherto saving crude oil. A total of 7 meetings were held. There were two general meetings and the others were sector specific to decipher the issues and opportunities for collaboration amongst the different sectors to drive tourism.
We are grateful to the following for hosting, research and logistics towards these meetings: Omololu Olumuyiwa (President, ANJET), Olufemi Lawson (CEO, Skyview Communications), Lola Adefope (MD, Business Travel Management), Toni Ukachukwu (Publisher, Aviators Africa), Lanre Samson (Activations Director, Heventin), Nnenna Fakoya-Smith (Founder, Nene-Uwa Hub) and Efetobo Awhana (Founder, Nigeria Travel Week).
PANELISTS & CONTRIBUTIONS
Panelists from the different sectors in order of appearance included: Atunyota Akpobome (Alibaba), Brian Efa (GM, Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort), Hassan Zakari (President, ATPN), Susan Akporiaye (President, NANTA) and Wale Ojo-Lanre (DG, Ekiti State Council of Arts & Culture), Abiola Ogunbiyi (SJ Tours), Jemi Alade (Jemi Alade Tours), Mark More (Motley Travels), Dr Mohammad Adamu (Bauchi Friends), Aisha Yusuf (The Hayche Network), Dewald Kruger (The Envoy Abuja), Tunde Oduyoye (L’eola Hotel Maryland), Abiola Lawal (Quorum Aviation), Ganiyu ‘Tarzan’ Balogun (Gani Tarzan Marine), Obi Mbanuzuo (Dana Air), Obinna Anyaegbu (Chisco Group), Adeoye Ojuoko (Work & Play), Femi Oyedipe (Loshes Chocolate), Dr Ibrahim M. Goni (CG, National Park Service), Matthew Ohio (Industry Nite), Siamanta Van-Labeke (Upbeat Centre), Steffen Tacer (Portharcourt Pleasure Park), Adedotun Ajibade (Travel Photographer), Brian e Ebden (Communications & Marketing Consultant), Lolo Ngozi Ngoka (Touristry Consultants Forum), Nneka Isaac-Moses (Goge Africa), Pelu Awofeso (Trávù) and Tinuke Nwakohu (Aviator Travels). All the meetings were well attended. Some participants/ key contributors include Folorunsho Coker (DG, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation), Capt Toju Ogisi (Retd), Funebi Obi (Legal Adviser, NTDC), Rotimi Aiyetan (Zonal Coordinator SW, NTDC), Nana Yakubu (Zonal Coordinator NC, NTDC), Yinka Folami (VP, NANTA Lagos), Saheed Adeleye (NIDO, Atlanta Georgia), Alhaji Saleh Rabo (President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria), Alhaji Aminu Agoha (Chairman, Touristry Consultants Forum), Bimbo Durosinmi-Etti (International Councillor, SKAL), Ademola Sanya (President, SKAL International Lagos), Rita Obidike (Discovery Travels), Dayo Adedayo (Foremost Travel Photographer), Chidinma Ekenobi (Standards Organisation of Nigeria), Kemi Soetan (Skyways Travels), Bambo Shagaya (Angelfire Travels), Bunmi Aremu (Sprints Travels), Michael Balogun (Tour2Nigeria), Paul Dagunduro (FUNAAB), Anago James Osho (Anago Adventures), Allen Effeh (Ibom Tourism), Joe Hanson (Hotel Expo Nigeria), Fadila Ahmad Abdulrazaq (Africans Living Fully) amongst several others.
Lack of legal framework for tourism in Nigeria is a problem hampering the growth of tourism in Nigeria. It erodes confidence of investors and breeds discontinuity of policies and projects to grow tourism. Transportation service providers including airlines, boat operators and road transporters do not have enough content of the tourism attractions of Nigeria in their on-board magazines. Government has not taken serious actions to implement the Nigeria Tourism Development Masterplan developed by UNWTO for Nigeria in 2006. The tourism masterplan was part funded by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Poor infrastructure, security challenges and poor perception of the country are factors hindering the growth of domestic tourism. There is no high-level public/private sector platform to engage government on policies and development of tourism in Nigeria just like the erstwhile Presidential Council on Tourism Nigeria is not taking advantage of our strong diaspora to drive tourism Progress has been made with the introduction of tourist visas but the industry stakeholders have not been carried along and awareness is still low. Visa hurdles at various embassies of Nigeria is a huge turn-off for tourists. The Nigerian tourism trade channel is broken, with little or no collaboration to sell domestic tourism products. There is no special fund for tourism as exists in other countries There is very little marketing and knowledge of Nigeria as a leisure destination, especially across the travel trade channels Tourism stakeholders often promote their products in isolation of the destination, with no CSR projects to support local tourism attractions and assets The popularity of our entertainment and celebrities is not been converted to pull tourists to destination Nigeria There is no calendar of events and festivals to attract tourists all year round