‘How tourism stimulates economic development’
Kechi Richard-Sheidu is an Abuja based serial entrepreneur and founder of Kahera Global, a luxury travel and concierge company in Nigeria. Having built one of the leading luxury travel companies in the African market, she has been called upon on overtimes to be advisors in Parastatal organisations, airline start-ups, and tourism boards globally.
What was the drive behind your chosen filed in tourism? She replied: “Tourism has always been a passion of mine. I was raised in a big family and I was the in-house travel agent until one of my uncles suggested I turn my passion into a career. So I got my International Air Transport Association (IATA) qualification and opened Kahera about 5-years ago.”
Kechi continues: “I have come to realise that tourism is essential to a country’s economic development. For a country like Barbados that runs solely on tourism, you see top celebrities around the world purchasing homes on the island. Also Dubai, whose entire economy blossom through tourism. According to statistics, tourists spent the sum of $30.82 Billion in 2018 alone. Dubai brings in the most tourist dollars worldwide year-in, year-out. That is a city that started development in 1966; now see how far they have come in just 54 years. How about here in Africa, Rwanda and Ghana are growing at an exponential rate. Ghana makes about US$8.3 Billion profit from the tourism sector per annum. So from all of the figures, tourism investment is a gold mine for any economy. This is why Nigeria should key into the sector for rapid development, but first, we must combat issues such as insecurity and basic infrastructure” she said.
Kechi further said: “It is only recently we started growing our client base in Nigeria due to the gap in the market for premium travelers. We realized that the needs of travelers are changing and we have found that they want a more personal and customised service and we should be able to compete in terms of travels and tourism with other countries because our people spend a lot of money in the travel space. As a matter of fact, Nigerians are in the top 5 countries of high spenders in the world. So we should also find a way to improve our tourism sector so visitors can come in”.
On the challenges of the travel space, Kechi said: “The luxury market is quite tasking and somewhat risky, but overtime you realise it is worth it. But the big challenges are the forces beyond our control, such as natural disasters in holiday destinations, flight cancellations, and strikes to medical emergencies such as the current coronavirus. We had this fantastic multi-country tour package that started in China but due to the unfortunate situation, we had to cancel pending when the virus is contained. However, here in Nigeria, Our biggest challenge is convincing prospective client why working with travel consultants pay off due to the series of unqualified travel companies in the industry. When clients narrate past experiences and how the said agents duped them, you marvel. So it can be frustrating for clients with such experience, because travel is a pleasure to look forward to and any form of fraud causes anxiety, which is why we ensure optimum protection for our clients all the way” she said.
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