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Developing domestic tourism: A conceptual model for Lagos tourism

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Sanwo-Olu. Photo; TWITTER/JIDESANWOOLU

According to The tourist gaze, anyone taking a moment to view different scenes, landscapes, and townscapes or artworks, which are out of the ordinary, is a tourist.

The tourist gaze, from a postmodern posture, conceptualises tourism as an engagement and experience rather than a specific form of travel. The implication of this is that everyone is a tourist much of the time whether he/she knows about it or not.

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Experiences such as annual ethnic or communal festivals celebrated to mark epochs or celebrate the culture and heritage of people, which enable participants to explore what they do not enjoy on a regular basis without leaving their familiar neighborhood are a case in point. This view of tourism embraces the main elements of the traditional definition of tourism with variations in space and time one spends as a tourist in a particular destination.

It, therefore, caters to both international and domestic tourists, whether one engages in an overnight stay or a few hour (s) of excursion.

Understanding Domestic Tourism:
Tourism, first and foremost, is domestic. It is usually a product of the Eco-system. Domestic tourism is the tourism of residents within the economic territory of the country of reference. Many writers have referred to the term ‘residents’ in tourism literature with such commonly used terminologies as host, community, local communities, rural communities, and hosting communities. In the context of domestic tourism, residents are providers of tourism goods and services at destinations and not consumers unto themselves.

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Many writers have defined domestic tourism from various perspectives; while a school of thought defines domestic tourism as all trips over 40 kilometres outside one’s usual environment which can be day trips or overnight trips for any given travel purpose; another perceives domestic tourism as the travel by residents of a country within the country, which can be same day or overnight within or outside the same state and territory but excluding travelling for work or school; and lastly, another defines domestic tourism simply as tourism within one’s country of residents. Though these definitions inevitably appear diverse one particular element that transcends these definitions is the fact that domestic tourism is characterised basically by the movement of tourists from one area of the traveler’s country to the other.

What is more, domestic tourism can be said to embody such approaches in tourism practices as Community Based Tourism (TBC), Ecotourism (ET), Pro-poor tourism (PPT), and sustaining tourism-eliminating poverty (ST-EP).

All approaches are geared towards the possible reduction of poverty at the grassroots level with increased net benefits for the people.

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This objective is consistent with the United Nation Sustaining Development Goals. It is an outgrowth of the broadening scope of the idea of sustainable tourism, which encompasses socio-cultural and economic, as well as environmental sustainability.

Why Tourism In Lagos State:
Lagos population, according to Unite Nations projection, would be 20 million in 2015, which would make it the third-largest city in the world. This is 2021. Lagos is home to over 21,000 industrial establishments, 10,000 commercial ventures, and five industrial estates. The State accounts for 70 per cent national maritime cargo freight; over 80 per cent of international aviation traffic and 50 per cent of domestic energy consumption; Lagos accounts for 80 per cent of the number of industries captured in 2019 was 318.

Lagos, no doubt offers enormous prospects for both inbound and outbound tourism because of direct flights from tourists’ generating regions of America, Eurasia, African markets as well as other components States of Nigeria to grow domestic and regional tourism. Its strong economy of being responsible for 30 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP with estimated GDP in 2020 hitting a record N32.150 Trillion and sustainable infrastructural development make Lagos a strong catalyst for flouring domestic tourism.

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Conceptual Model For Lagos Domestic Tourism:
As a result of the interaction between tourists and the local people which is expressed in how tourism responds to particular assets in a destination, its accessibility to the local, its connectivity, and its ability to linking consumers to producers characteristically makes domestic tourism malleable activities that are relevant particularly to reduction of poverty with potentials to providing a number of intangible and practical benefits to the local people.

As the word connotes, domestic tourism thrives more on harnessing a destination’s tangible and intangible natural and cultural heritage in relation to how the community or the host live and explore their lives in relation to their economy, technology, and sociology. Economy: be it fishing, farming, animal husbandry, farming, trading, palm-wine tapping which gives them a source of livelihood, etc; Technology: finds expression in various forms of local arts such as visual arts, painting, textile, carving, sculpting, pottery, ceramics, weaving and crafts, bead-making, etc leading to empowerment and self-sufficiency, particularly for youths in rural communities and; Sociology as expressed in the mode of dressing, food, and cuisine, history, religion and festivals, social and cultural landscape, environmental ambiance, social institutions e.g. security, music, literature, and other intellectual expressions.

The harnessing of these local resources and assets into products of attraction for domestic visitor’s experience and consumption constitutes the factors that grow and stimulate domestic tourism. And when fully developed and projected they become attractions for the influx of international tourists. It goes without saying that the value of domestic tourism rests in the reality of the indigenous people’s ways of life and other stakeholders acknowledging the value of such in the preservation of tourism resources in the community.

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Some of the basic characteristics of Domestic Tourism are that: It grows and develops from the host community ecosystem or environment; Attractions are not necessarily built, managed, or existed for mass tourism destinations; It is dependent on natural capital (wildlife, sceneries, and features) and culture which are assets to the host; It does not wholly rely on excesses that attract inbound international tourists like five-star hotels, airports, quality highways among others; Domestic tourist is not out to consuming highly standardized tourism products; Domestic tourism is for small scale tourism that takes off with minimal investment; Domestic tourists do not need to have lots of money to enjoy social life but the will to travel outside of their normal environment for leisure of participating in the festival, picnics at the beaches or adventure to sites and sceneries

Key Stakeholders In Domestic Tourism Implementation:
A stakeholder has been defined as ‘‘any individual, community, group or organisation with an interest in the outcome of activities, either as a result of being affected by it or by being able to influence it.”

Involvement of stakeholders in the domestic tourism approach will not be enough without being made to feel engaged and enabled to work together as a team.

The public sector, including supra-governmental bodies such as the UNESCO, the Federal and the State Governments and the local government, and other quasi-governmental organizations: this sector becomes relevant in terms of appropriate legislation, policy formulation, and regulation in the area access to funding and fiscal incentives; training and capacity building; land use planning and access to land; environmental and impact assessment; provision of infrastructure e.g. network of good roads, visitor attractions like museums, historical buildings, communication infrastructure, etc.

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The tourism industry: this includes players in the Hospitality industry, Entertainment and Arts, tourist attractions sites and other tourist services providers, the national/local tour operators, owners of shopping malls, restaurants and café, canteens, transportation associations etc. The private sector, who must act as partner, enabler, customer, marketing channel, and financial analyst: this includes the banking sector, other financial institutions, and local media outfits. The integration of the host community people as producers, suppliers, workers, participants, and above all decision-makers

Strategic Approach To Implementing Domestic Tourism: To put in place a basic structure for the development of domestic tourism and its growth, as pointed out above, two basic steps become imperative. The Local Governments must be adequately integrated. The local governments provide the basic structure for the growth and flourishing of domestic tourism in the State hence the creation or establishment of tourism Departments at the Local Government level. The creation of a Tourism Committee at each Local Government in the State is sine-qual-none. This is one technical aspect where a legislation/policy for the creation of Tourism Committee in each local government in the State becomes catalytic.

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The Committee and the Department shall work in synergy with their respective local government to collect and collate data on both tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage at their respective local government. Coordinating the activities of local tour guides, operators, and relevant NGOs in the local government areas. Coordination, liaison, raising public awareness, and undertaking activities like arts and cultural exhibitions. Provision of information to visitors via the creation of Tourism Information Offices in the Local Government. Act as community-based liaison for the implementation and execution of State tourism programmes at the grassroots level. Promote and encourage tourism initiatives at the local level by encouraging local government to build, own and manage visitors attractions like museums, galleries, cultural activities etc. Promote tourism marketing via promotional campaigns, sponsoring and facilitating cultural and entertainment events. Capacity building, training, and empowerment through skill acquisition in indigenous technology including training of tour guides operators, and interpreters. Act as the liaison office and network nexus for both the Hotel Licensing and Film Licensing Board respectively or any other agency operating under the tourism Ministry to collect and collate data to aid the agencies in carrying out their responsibilities in the State. Product development in various aspects of the State’s tourism resources, even food that is discernible in each local government.

The unique tourist experience that is being consumed in a destination is usually delivered by the combined activities of travel agents, tour operators, transport providers, hotels, restaurants, attraction site managers, activity operators, handicraft sellers, general retailers, and operators of many other ancillary services. This is why tourism has become probably the world’s largest employer of labour employing 1/11 jobs generated globally. The conscientious pursuit of domestic tourism in Lagos State will change the narrative of tourism and impact significantly the quality of life of the local people socially and economically. However, the challenges this model will normally face speak to coping with the ravaging COVID ’19, technology, security, good road network to destinations, the nation’s economy, environment, politics, infrastructure etc.

Babatunde Olaide-Mesewaku (PhD) is Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture

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