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Tour Guide Nigeria is a means of showcasing to the world Nigeria's beauty. It showcases the rich cultural heritage of the country, the delicious cuisines, the beautiful people, interesting places, the wild life and the tours and hospitality organizations. It also talks about the problems facing hospitality and tourism development in Nigeria and tries to proffer solutions to the ones it can.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Nigeria as a Tourism Destination- The Challenges

Hi friends,

141112F.Bismarck-Rewane.jpg - 141112F.Bismarck-Rewane.jpg

Bismarck Rewan

Why is tourism contributing marginally to the fortunes of this country and why is it that even those that come for business travel do not take out time to actually explore the tourism opportunities of this country?
My understanding is that we have not made tourism a major goal in this country. We have not even started nurturing our historical and anthropological assets to position them to become attractive. If you take the budget of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and compare it to the budget of the Ministry of Petroleum or Defense, the story is told. In terms of revenue and contribution to economic activity, tourism contributes little or nothing. First of all, Nigeria is not considered by many even domestically as a destination for rest or relaxation or as a destination for historical, cultural or anthropological discovery or excursions.
There are no safaris, there are hardly any zoos, there are no cultural events, even though the history and culture is there, they have all been abandoned. So, it’s more of a strategic loss than anything else. Now, the infrastructure that supports tourism doesn’t exist. If you’re arriving at the airport or you go to any Nigerian website, there is no reference to places like the Yankari Game Reserve, Benin Moat. Something as simple as the Civil war, a civil war that everybody and history books refer to and many were killed. Where is the Biafran airport, where are the bunkers where the soldiers hid, where are the refugee camps; all these should have been preserved for history. Where are the historical lineages? Where was the Olu of Warri’s palace n 1400, 600 to 700 years ago?
I go to Egypt and I see all these in spite of their crises. Tourism is still going on there just as in Kenya, Gambia and Senegal. It’s an objective that is driven by the government as an alternative source of income especially with the threat of oil revenue going down. I know there are major security issues but that is recent. But even in the past as a student way back, I went on excursions to the Kukuruku Hills, Forcados Reef and Escravos. People went on excursions to Jos, Yankari Game Reserve etc. When I was a student years ago, I hitchhiked all the way to Ndjamena (Chad) from Ibadan with some American friends of mine on exchange program.  I went all the way to Kaduna, to Maiduguri, crossed Cameroun. We used the New Nigeria newspaper delivery vehicles to take us across and went back with them and that used to be in the seventies. That doesn’t exist any more. That is tourism. I found out I could go into Cameroun and Chad, crossing the river. All of these we all did in search of the history and culture of the Sahel. This doesn’t exist again.
For a number of reasons, if my son tells me he wants to hitch hike to Chad now, I will say no. because I am afraid of what will happen with Boko Haram, I’m afraid of kidnapping from MEND and all the other people. I’m afraid of police brutality and what will happen across the border. So, where is the motivation? We need to step back and start doing simple things. How do we even nurture the historical and cultural things in this part of the country? Luckily Lagos has done the Eyo festival well.
The hostile attitude of Nigerian officials starting from the embassies and at the airport must change. Tourism does not exist in a vacuum. The environment is hostile even to some indigenes not to talk of visitors. It’s a fundamental shift that has to take place before you can begin to see results and it’s a long, long process.
The Federal Government of recent unveiled  a new tourism brand identity for the nation’s tourism sector termed ’Fascinating Nigeria.’ It said it would drive the promotional activities of the government in the culture and tourism sector and put Nigeria at par with countries like South Africa with ‘It’s Possible’ as its brand identity. Do you think we are on the right path?
You see, we have to do our domestic homework and make this country attractive for domestic travel, from one point in the country to the other. If we don’t address that, the question of international tourism cannot arise. If indigenous/domestic investors cannot invest in the market, we cannot expect foreign investors to do same.
I believe strongly that a lot of house cleaning needs to be done first. Then, we need to project the image. Nobody believes in the hospitality and friendliness of the Nigerian people. From the Nigerian police service to immigrations, no Nigerian believes it, not to talk of foreigners. Let’s have some credibility in what we are doing. The Nigerian government, federal and state, want to encourage tourism. Let us see the effect of it, let it be easy for me to go to your state.
Travelling from Lagos to Delta State is fraught with issues when it should be seamless. The moment I cross into Ogun State, the first thing the FRSC (Federal Road Safety Corps) will ask me is for vehicle license. Then, when I get to Ondo State, they’ll ask for another thing like my fire extinguisher and it goes on and on. And it’s not restricted to one agency alone. There’s a host of them on the road. Security agencies that are recruited to protect us have become extortionists. That’s the truth.
This is why a lot of people travel by air. It is to avoid what we call the different extortion rackets on the way.  I want to ask you a question. How many times have you seen people walking along this town with a camera taking pictures? What you see is people taking pictures with their camera phones. But the reality is that tourists take pictures with special angled cameras to capture the wide view and all that. Yeah, so I think we as a people are not ready. When you see pro-tourist people, you know. How many people do you see on the streets walking about looking for tourists, taking photographs, conducting interviews and all that? It’s not there. The industry is at its infancy and it’s not being encouraged. We need to have a plan; we need to have a strategy and we need to have milestones like in the next three years we need to increase our tourism inflow to 200,000 visitors a year, have reduced airfares for people coming to Nigeria, you’ll have places for them to visit such as Obudu ranch, Ikogosi Warm Springs Resorts, protected and secured from arrival to departure. We need to make our regulations more flexible and so many other things, that’s my view.
Hotels play a key role in tourism. How true is the high occupancy rate bandied by hotels and hotel ratings?
Lagos has a population of about 16 million people and the total of what I call 4-star rooms in this city cannot be more than 5,000, maximum 6,000 rooms. The population of Manhattan is less than 1 million people and Manhattan probably has something like almost 300,000 hotel rooms of that magnitude. So, first and foremost, there is no supply of hotel rooms. The quality is questionable and the price is artificially high. Industry is an extension of the real estate industry. A 2-bedroom apartment in New York City comes in about roughly $30,000 a year. In Nigeria, similar apartments will go for $60,000 a year. Obviously, I’ll rather be in Manhattan than be in Banana Island where I’ll still have to pay for security and all that. So, first of all there is a structural problem. The supply of hotels is not enough. The ones that are around are over-priced and the quality of the hotels is questionable. Therefore, the hotel industry is an industry in transition.
The reports bandied around that they have occupancy rates of 90 per cent or more is false. The true occupancy rate of major hotels in this country is about forty per cent. If you back out the crew discount because you have about 26 airlines that come into Nigeria, only about 20 do crew lay over. Those ones pay 25 per cent of the rate because they are blocking the rooms for a whole year. So, you find out that in the Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, British Airways will be paying $80 instead of $200 because they’re blocking rooms for a whole year and their probably blocking about thirty rooms. If you back out the crew of these major airlines, you find out the occupancy rates even dip below 30 per cent.
They need to increase the quantity, improve the quality and rationalize the price. That’s a long-term thing and they will tell you that in other countries they don’t provide diesel, borehole and bribe regulatory authorities. One can understand that but basically what is happening is that the price of hotels will come down as the supply increases.
Lets segments the hotels into different levels, there’s the luxury hotels, mid-level hotels and small bits and pieces. I will say in the medium-range, it’s over priced. When there is some saturation in the luxury range, the price and quality of the medium-range will increase and there will be budget hotels. Right now, there are no budget hotels. The budget hotels are going to happen.  I think in the next two to three years, the hotel industry in Lagos in particular, Port Harcourt, Abuja and certain parts of the country will go through a major shake-out. Only the best hotels will survive it
I don’t want to go into the controversy of ratings, apart from intercontinental hotel, it is difficult for me to see a five star hotel. The most important thing is the quality of hotels and service rendered.

Credits; Thisdaylive

                         Culture and Tourism Remain Untapped Gold Mine in Nigeria

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  1. It takes one to kill a thousand bt two to kill ten thousand... It is imperative that we are informed abt it n together look for a way out...well done dear