Africa: Experts at Akwaaba fair says Nigeria can earn $20bn and West Africa $50bn from Tourism Annually, citing SA, Egypt and Kenya

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Making references to South Africa in Southern Africa, Egypt in North Africa and Kenya in East Africa, where so much money is being generated from tourism, experts have said that Nigeria could generate up to $20 billion annually from tourism, if the landscape and the numerous side attractions are well developed.

According to the experts, “With hundreds of beaches, different aquatic beauties, game reserves, flora and fauna from the mangrove region to the Sahel region, Nigeria can earn at least $20 billion annually from tourism if these numerous attractions are developed.”

They said West Africa, led by Nigeria, could generate over $50 billion annually from tourism, noting that West Africa is the only sub-region that has not exploited its tourism potential.

They disclosed that revenues generated from tourism in East Africa, South Africa and North Africa, have become the mainstay of their economy, adding that the 16 West African nations have so many tourist attractions that have not been exploited.

They gave the statistics that in 2019 South Africa earned R121. 5 billion with 1.2 per cent increase from the previous year.

The experts analysed recent reports, which indicated that African countries with the largest international tourism receipts in 2019 included Egypt that was ranked first in Africa with international tourism receipts of $13.03 billion, whereas South Africa and Morocco recorded $8.38 billion and $8.18 billion respectively.

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Tourism expert and the organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ikechi Uko, who spoke to THISDAY during the 18th edition of the event in Lagos, said comparative study on what other sub-regions earn from tourism could throw light to what West Africa is losing from the sector because the 16 countries in the sub-region have not taken time to study and find ways to fully explore the opportunities available in these countries, stressing that Nigeria and Ghana are potentially losing huge revenues by under developing their possible tourism destinations.

“If you look at what Egypt and South Africa are earning, including Kenya, Morocco and others in the other sub-regions in Africa, you will realise that the 16 countries in West Africa are losing a lot of money. Each country can earn at least $2 billion annually and that gives you about $32 billion. Nigeria alone can generate over $20 billion from tourism and even Lagos has so much that if it decides to develop its toursim destinations, it can generate enough money to fully manage the state,” Uko said.

In an interview THISDAY on the said, at Wave Beach, Elegushi, Lagos on Sunday, the Minister of Tourism, Sierra  Leone, Memunatu Pratt, said if well developed, tourism could become major source of revenue for West African nations, but these countries need to exploit the opportunities in the individual countries and work together with the others in the sub-region.

“Tourism today is critical to the transformation of West Africa’s woes or difficulties. And the reason why we have not been able to leverage on that is because of the fact that we have not improved on connectivity. When we say connectivity, we have a huge interest in Information Technology (IT), and I agree with that. But even at that, you have millions of people that they cannot reach.

So you still depend on traditional methods of media and more, especially on the electronic media, which is what you are doing. But for West Africa, generally, we have wasted a lot of time in connecting the sub region. I remember as far back as 1975 and up to 1980, there were projects to link West Africa. We are talking about the West Africa railway. We were also talking about the West Africa air connectivity and to some extent that we missed it as a result of the fact that a few things happened in West Africa. Like for instance, if you can recall the Civil wars in Sierra Leone, the one in Liberia, which affected Guinea a little bit. And then also, it disrupted quite a lot of processes,” she said.

By Chinedu Eze



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