Nigeria’s Tourism landscape in 2016
NIGERIA has always been seen as a land with huge tourism potential both in the area of eco-tourism and cultural tourism. While some see the huge eco-tourism assets as the way forward, many believe the country’s diverse and rich culture is an area that the country has huge potential and as such should be developed.
However, 2016, especially at the beginning, saw little or no activities. The country missed many of the international fora through which it had in the past showcased its tourism assets to the international community.
In many events, such as FITUR in Spain (January), ITB-Berlin (March) and many others, Nigeria was conspicuously missing. It was as if the tourism industry was on a downward spiral. The industry in the first quarter of the year was comatose until the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, decided to call a stakeholders’ summit in Abuja.
National Summit on Tourism and Culture
Mohammed said the summit was designed to explore all the various opportunities in tourism sector to improve the economy. He said the change mantra of the Federal Government could only be sustained, if culture and tourism provided needed drives.
He said: “We want to turn adversity into sustainable fortune by tapping our national cultural heritage and tourism.”
Mohammed said the challenge before the country was to work out long-term strategies to develop the country’s culture and tourism sectors and move them into the mainstream of the economy, “while not failing to design ways and means of plucking some low-hanging ‘fruits’ along the way.”
The President, represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, promised to encourage public and private sector participation and partnership in all the desired areas of transportation, beach and resort development and other tourism sub-sectors as a deliberate effort to develop tourism as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification of the economy.
“Tourism, therefore, is a resource of development and means of providing an additional opportunity for a non-industrialised country like ours, to diversify its economic base for the betterment of all,” he said.
Akwaaba 2016: Problem with aviation in West Africa
11th edition of the Akwaaba Travel Fair was held in Lagos. The fair,which has become the prime tourism event for West Africa, had more than 15 countries in attendance. The high point was the discussion segment that discussed issues affecting the travel and tourism industry in Nigeria and West Africa at large. Aviation experts, which included Mr. Yomi Jones, Mr. Femi Adefowope, Mr. Dapo Olumide, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, former Managing Director, Virgin Nigeria, identified the problems affecting the growth of the aviation industry in Nigeria and Africa and why airlines failed.
Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer of Ropeways Transport and former Managing Director of Virgin Nigeria Airlines, Captain Dapo, said lack of good corporate governance and ethics was the major reason why African airlines failed in Nigeria and Africa.
Olumide observed that the ownership structure of the airlines was another factor. He said “the owner appoints family members as directors instead of independent directors who are experienced in aviation business”.
He stressed the need for airline operators to have the right aircraft in their operation.
According to him, it does not make economic sense in deploying big aircraft instead of a small one on a route with less passenger traffic.
He observed that the business plans must be right, adding that in most cases the airlines business plans are always wrong.
Olumide identified the problem of maintenance where there are no maintenance facilities in the country to carry out major repairs and overhaul on aircraft as another problem facing the industry in the country..
Hotel standardisation by SON
A major feat towards the regulation and standardisation of hospitality business in Nigeria was achieved by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria as its National Mirror Committee (NMC) on Tourism and related activities has successfully completed work on the first ever national framework on standards of Nigerian hotels which is expected to form the baseline for the grading and classification of hotels in the country once approved.
The National Mirror Committee was inaugurated by SON in April this year in Lagos with the mandate to review and adopt the International Standard Organisation (ISO/T228) and Africa Organisation for Standardisation set up by ECOWAS in accordance with international best practices for use in the tourism industry.
Three other documents, which are meant for use in the Nigerian tourism industry, were also presented and adopted by the committee making it four documents that were deliberated on and adopted.
Speaking on this development, Mrs. Chika Balogun, the head of the committee, said it had great import for tourism, as it would further boost the image of the country, inspire confidence in investors, encourage more investment and create jobs and wealth for the country.
“This would attract the Direct Foreign Investment (FDI), local and regional investments, to the country and the tourism industry because it would not put their money where they are not sure, but with such an important document as standards for hotels, it would boost the confidence of investors to now trust the industry and invest in it because it has now become more reliable and respected as there are now standards of operation to guide operators and investors,” Balogun said.
Removal of NTDC Director General
The end of November saw the disengagement of the former Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo. In the letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, her two-year tenure was said to have elapsed. She was instructed to hand over to the most senior civil servant in her parastatal.