Stakeholders seek ways of shaping 21st century travellers’ experience
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) prediction shows that international tourism arrivals will grow by 3.3 per cent per year between 2010 and 2030 and reach 1.8 billion total arrivals by 2030. On the other hand, growth in emerging countries is expected to be twice as fast as in advanced ones.
In fact, tourism’s market share in emerging countries, based on the prediction, is expected to rise to 57 percent by 2030, compared to 47 percent in 2012. However, how Nigerian government plans to takes advantage of this rare opportunity to boost tourism in the country and earn revenue, remains a big question begging for answers.
To stimulate conversation on how Nigeria can take advantage of the numerous opportunities in the sector, Jumia Travel recently hosted a Tourism Summit in Lagos, with notable stakeholders in attendance. Held under the theme, Expectations vs Reality: Redefining the Role of Industry Stakeholders in Shaping the 21st Century Travelers’ Experience, the robust intellectual discourse had the likes of Akwaaba Africa Travel Market founder Ikechi Uko; MD of Jumia Travel Nigeria, Kushal Dutta; Kenya Airways’ Bakare Abiola; Co-founder Social Prefect Tours, Chiamaka Obuekwe and Sam Adeleke of Afro Tours as panelists.
Moderated by Tosin Ajibe of Olorisupergal, who set the tone for the session, the summit was an opportunity for young travel writers, who have mastered the use of technology in driving travel and tourism, to meet with experienced travel and tourism journalist and stakeholders, who were instrumental to birthing of the industry. In all, it was a platform to look at issues affecting the sector, with special focus on how stakeholders can become catalyst for the needed growth.
According to Kushal Dutta of Jumia Travel Nigeria, though states are making effort to drive tourism, 80 per cent of travels to Nigeria are still towards Lagos.
“The industry is still travel not yet tourism; there’s a difference between travel and tourism,” he noted.
He, however, observed that the current state of Nigeria’s economy has in a way encouraged Nigerians to look inwards in terms of travel.
“The positive side of recession in Nigeria is that people are now looking inwards for holidays and travels. You find that a lot of people go to places like Obudu Cattle Ranch and the rest,” he said.
He noted that when it comes to outbound travels, the first choice for Nigerians is Dubai, then South Africa and Kenya.
“When they are in places like the United States, Nigerians prefer to stay with family members and friends as against lodging in hotels,” he said, adding, “Nigerians don’t like to travel to Asian countries as much, except on business.”
For Abiola Bakare, London remains one of the top destinations for Nigerians, though business tourism is more in countries like China.
“You find that a lot of Nigerians, especially from the north, are schooling in places like Southern Sudan and Egypt. With a lot of schools now extending their operations in Dubai, you find that most Nigerians and Africans now prefer to study in Dubai. We need to look within Africa when it comes to travel; that’s one way to grow our economy. It was only when people couldn’t get dollars to travel that they started looking inwards,” he said.
In her remarks, Chiamaka Obuewke informed that part of the reasons for establishing Social Prefect Tours is to open the eyes of Nigerians to beautiful destinations in Nigeria.
“I wanted people to know there are places in Nigeria and Africa. We discovered that people are looking more for resorts where they can relax, which was why we recently organised a package to Inagbe Resort, Ikogosi etc. People are looking for where to relax and enjoy nature; they want natural environments like the Olumo Rock,” she noted.
She added, “It’s easier to organise tours around southwest because of the closeness to Lagos; people can just leave Lagos and within few hours, they are there. Though some people would like to go to places in the north like Yankari, the distance is always the issues,” she said.
In his observation, Sam Adeleke of Afro Tourism said a lot of young Nigerians are more interested in adventure travel these days.
“They are interested in going on adventure trips just to share the experiences with friends and relatives on social media,” he said.
In his remarks, Ikechi Uko noted that stakeholders in the Nigerian entertainment industry paid the price for what the industry has turned out today, adding that stakeholders in the tourism sector are paying similar sacrifice to get the industry on a sound footing.
“When I started reporting tourism, there were very few people on the beat. In fact, I had the first travel magazine in Africa. Today, I’m seeing young people doing tours; a lot of them are travel bloggers, which is good for the industry. However, there’s need for them to have a synergy with travel and tourism journalists, who have been in the industry for long,” he said.
For Uko, the media determines where and how Nigerians travel.
“Nigerians don’t decide where they travel to; the media determines that. It is what we put out in the media that helps Nigerian take decision on where and how to travel; the media decides where Nigerians and African go to,” he said.
In the end, participants were in agreement that the government should show genuine commitment towards the development and promotion of tourism in Nigeria.
According to the Head of PR & Marketing for Jumia Travel, facilitating a summit to discuss critical industry issues has always been a key focus for the company.