Stakeholders chart new roadmap for development of Nigeria’s domestic tourism
As efforts to develop Nigeria’s tourism sector into a thriving business, in line with the vision to diversify the economy, some concerned stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry have come together to chart a new roadmap for the development of the country’s domestic tourism.
According to the group, this roadmap, which was unfolded recently during a webinar conference, is expected to serve as the fulcrum for growing the vast and diverse potential of the sector into a money-spinner. The group said tourism could only develop through the concerted efforts of the private sector hence the new move, which enjoys the support of one of the leading banking institutions in the country.
The group is made up of some of the most experienced and successful tourism entrepreneurs and marketing professionals, including Otunba Olawanle Akinboboye; founder/CEO, La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, who heads the team; Isaac and Nneka Moses of Goge Africa Worldwide Limited; Efetobo Awhana, founder/CEO, Nigeria Travel Week; Dr. Mohammad Adamu, founder, Bauchi Friends, and Brian Ebden, strategic director/brand consultant, TEOO Universal Concepts, as well as Sterling Bank, which is backing the initiative.
In a document titled, Collaborative Tourism Practitioners Roadmap for Development of Domestic Tourism in Nigeria, noted that Nigeria as a country is blessed with diverse potentials dotting the 774 local councils, spanning 923,768 square kilometers and supported by over 200 million population made of a growing middle class and vibrant youth force, which makes the country a rich market to be explored by both investors and tourists.
It also noted that for meaningful development to take place in the sector, a ‘bottom to top’ approach mechanism must be adopted, adding that the Nigerian domestic scene must also align with what obtains in the international tourism scene. It proposed that Nigeria should adopt a central theme or focus as it is obtained in the global tourism ecosystem, for which the international tourism, including the domestic market, should know Nigeria.
Based on this, the chairman of the group, Akinboboye, disclosed that the central theme for Nigerian tourism as recommended by the group should be Cultural and Heritage Tourism, on which other sub themes revolve. He noted that Nigeria boast suffusing and effervescent cultural heritage, which are quite unique and pristine.
“That is our strength, we want to be known as the cultural capital of the world as no other country has such abundant and unique cultural heritage as we do. So, we need to build our destination on that central theme and then other aspects would evolve around it.”
He further stated that it is only when this is done and Nigeria becomes noted for its cultural heritage as the East Africans are noted for safari and wildlife (Ecotourism) tourism, that real development and marketing of the tourism sector for the benefits of the people and country can be achieved.
He informed that the group has developed a tourism roadmap for the development of domestic tourism in Nigeria, adding that anybody is free to participate in this new move as the document, which has been made public, is expected to form the basis for participation and investment by interested entrepreneurs and stakeholders.
As a result of the adoption of this central theme for the country’s tourism sector, the group, in taking a holistic view of the global tourism ecosystem, listed some of the tourism products that can be developed in tandem with the central theme and other sub-themes in order for the country tourism to fit into the global tourism ecosystem.
The document further stated that Nigerians should focus more on developing tourist destinations as opposed to tourist attractions, arguing that attractions are not what ignite the interest of the tourists in a country, but the destinations, which offer tourists the opportunities to explore and spend money on the activities generated by the destinations.
On this score, the group recommended the creation of destinations across the six geo-political zones of the country based on the peculiarities, cultural affinities and other elements of states within these zones. To set the ball rolling for others to follow and join, they outlined the creation of destinations such as: Destination Oodua, Destination Arewa, Destination Kwenu and Destination Carbo.
It would be recalled that Sterling Bank had earlier made N5 billion seed fund available for investment in tourism. Following this, investors with bankable proposal are expected to benefit from the initial disbursement of between N250, 000 and N500, 000 funding for approved projects. The funding is, however, expected to increase, as the project progresses.
Already, the project has attracted the support and participation of some state governments, with Bayelsa, Osun, Nasarawa and Lagos States already signed up, while the Senior Special Assistant on Tourism to Governor Babajide Sanwo – Olu of Lagos State, Solomon Sonu, has been made a member of the group’s steering committee.