Following a devastating and ongoing pandemic that caused $1.2 trillion in losses to the global tourism industry (UNWTO), 75 million job losses worldwide (WTTC 2020), with 50% of aviation industry job cuts likely to be permanent, according to the International Air Travel Association, global tourism is slowly but steadily regaining its footing (IATA).
The tourism industry, which contributes 20% to the economy and has the potential to generate enormous amounts of employment, foreign investment, and foreign currency, is heavily reliant on international visitors for its success. However, chronic instability has rendered the majority of Nigeria’s territory insecure. As a result of the insurgency, communal murders resulting from herders and farmers confrontations, loss of livelihoods resulting from COVID, and the desire to “get rich fast,” abduction operations and ritual killings have escalated.
Otunba Ayo Olumoko, managing director of Infogem Limited and vice president of the ITPN, Southwest, who has worked on several tourism, culture, and festival projects in the region, said a lack of security in all states of Nigeria had hampered corporate investment and international agency support for tourism.
“International travelers finding their way to Nigeria is a challenging task. International researchers who are interested in learning more about Nigeria and Nigerian culture usually make their way to the country. Insecurity has, unfortunately, penetrated so deeply into the nation’s marrow that it has harmed Nigeria’s international reputation “he said.
Kenya will collaborate with Nigeria in the tourism and hospitality industries.
Insecurity also poses a danger to domestic tourism, which has been hailed as “the low-hanging fruit” for boosting the sector’s development in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. Susan Akooriaye, President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agents (NANTA), said that Nigerians are reluctant to travel inside the nation as a result of heightened insecurity activities.
She said that the timing of NANTA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Kano resulted in a complete boycott of the event by members, much alone foreign visitors. Furthermore, she emphasized the importance of domestic tourism “Nigeria would not be able to produce the amount of money it desires in tourism if it just sells ‘Nigerian tourism’ to Nigerians, as it already does. If you sell tourism to foreigners, you will earn more money and contribute more to the GDP.”
Business at Motley Travels and Logistics Limited, an Abuja-based travel operator that offers tourism packages to Nigerians and foreigners visiting the nation, has suffered as a consequence of the insecurity.
CEO Mark More said that tourist excursions that formerly drew 100 online subscribers have plummeted, with around 40 members questioning about safety, resulting in a fall in the number of yearly group tours.
“The Gurara Waterfall in Niger State is usually visited by around 250 people on a typical trip. During the previous several years, a visit to the Gurara Waterfall has attracted no more than 20 to 30 people on average.
You have had less than ten people to sign up for a group trip in the previous year alone, and this is mostly due to concerns about security. The Obudu Cattle Ranch, which attracts visitors in December, only had only 64 people visit the property last year, compared to the previous year “More bemoaned the situation.
Whatever the bleak picture seems to be, private operators are taking the necessary steps to safeguard their own existence.