Potential Tourism Game Changers of 2013 (Nigeria)

“Nigeria is so blinded by poor infrastructure and the ‘oil’ that wheels its corruption machine to focus on the potential huge revenue the hospitality industry can generate” Anonymous

Since the creation of the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation in 1999, tourism has not seen a year with such dramatic developments with far-reaching impact on the industry as 2013. We shall just look at a few developments that have shaped the industry in the year preceding 2014.

-Intercontinental Hotel Inroad into Nigeria:

The 23-storey-building is regarded by many as the first truly five-star hotel in Nigeria. It is a N30 billion five star hotel funded by Skye and Wema bank Nigeria. The hotel was opened on October 6, 2013.
The hotel was declared open by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola and is located in Victoria Island, it has 352 rooms. He described the hotel as “a worthy investment that has further closed the gap in the deficit of world-class hospitality in the state”

The hotel has provided employment for 650 Nigerians and 24 expatriates and is poised to offer world-class hospitality, professional training that will ensure capacity is built across the hospitality industry while empowering Nigerians and adding glamour to Nigeria’s mega city.

The Nigerian hospitality industry in the last couple of years, has seen a major endorsement and confidence from the worlds top hospitality brands as each of them are making efforts to have a foothold in the country. Carlson, Intercontinental, Holiday Inn/Ibis to name a few have some presence in the country and struggle for a share in the marketplace.

-AMCON taking over TINAPA:

This will probably prove to be another worthy marker for the new year. When the first phase of the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort was commissioned on April 2, 2007, it was like finally Nigeria was about to emerge from the tourism wilderness into a destination for business and leisure. But so far the resort hasn’t lived up to the vision and hype that heralded the opening. The reasons for this abound: interference by the Nigerian Customs, bad roads, government management, poor implementation of government policies, insecurity in the country and many others.

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria(AMCON) came to the rescue of the ailing resort by buying over the majority shares of the resort. This takeover has been seen as a good sign generally because of the way AMCON has turned the bad assets of a couple failed banks into profits in two years. Based on the agreement, AMCON is to buy back Tinapa’s debt totalling N18.dbn and provide N26bn for the revitalisation and resuscitation of the resort to reposition it as a private sector driven enterprise.

-Finally, the change in leadership of NTDC might mean a lot or nothing at all:

The Tourism development corporation changed leadership from Otunba Segun Runsewe to Mrs Sally Mbanefo in May 2013. Mr Runsewe did a reasonable job encouraging tourism, was an experienced tourism expert and was the face of the industry from 2006-2013. Mrs Sally is a seasoned banker on the other hand and has promised to build on the achievements on Runsewe and take the industry to greater heights. We just hope that with her connections in the banking sector she will woo investors into developing infrastructure that will ensure Nigeria moves closer to fulfilling the potential goldmine ‘Tourism’ is.

Let’s hope the markers set last year will lead to great strides being made into improving Tourism in Nigeria this year. Let’s hope Mrs Mbanefo and AMCON do their job and provide the leadership and the direction the industry so desperately needs.

The tourism industry has the potential to create jobs, build capacity, promote even development across the country, promote th good values of the country, improve security etc, tourism should be supported, tourism should be a major focus……….

Happy New Year Folks!! Remain Hopeful

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Develop The Nigerian Tourism Industry

The so-called commitment of the Nigerian government to developing the tourism industry to help diversify the economy should be met with skepticism. The recent claim to a commitment to develop our economy through tourism isn’t new and has been pushed around with every new administration. Despite the huge potential tourism in Nigeria has and the revenue and jobs it will definitely provide the Nigerian government (Federal and State) will only be paying lip service for the foreseeable future, Why? Well because it is not oil, we don’t have visionary leaders and to develop tourism you will need to work harder for probably less revenue than oil brings in.

It does not require a genius to appreciate the enormous tourism resources that Nigeria is endowed with but the wisdom and the will to exploit them as mentioned are forever lacking. The opportunities are unbelievable: Land mass, naturally occurring structures, a large population of diverse peoples, a wide range of cultures with attendant ceremonies, festivals, cuisines, artifacts and crafts, whew!

I mean if the Osun festival in oshogbo, the Ojude Oba festival in Ogun State, Kwanghir masquerade festival in Benue state, through to the Argungu Fishing Festival in Sokoto State, to the Calabar Dance Festival and the Igboukwu festivals were better managed Nigeria will be a different place. Foreigners are always looking for new places to go for the love of Christ. Instead of wasting millions on stupid bullet proof cars for aviation ministers, we can invest in those festivals for one. Make it more organised, increase safety, develop the communities e.t.c. GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA, all you need to do is to Provide INFRASTRUCture and your job is half done. It is called creating an enabling environment for US(Nigerians) to grow and we will pay back enough in tax to sustain infrastructural development (We the people promise today).lol!

It is perhaps important to note that a Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan was developed and launched in 2006 by the Obasanjo administration with both funding and consultancy support of the United Nations and World Tourism Organisation. It has been reviewed and is said to be a thoroughly prepared 35 page working paper with a three phased action plan said to have the potential if judiciously implemented to radically transform the tourism industry by 2015.

According to reports though the tourism sector has seriously under-performed. In 2011 only 715,000 tourist came into the country, between 1995-2011, Nigeria’s highest earnings from tourism was a meager 688 million dollars in 2008. International tourism generated 0.72 per cent of Nigerias total export earnings in 2011, finally on the WTO rankings Nigeria is nowhere to be found on the top ten travel destinations in Africa.

So what does the Federal Government through the ministry of tourism do? Well more talk: Minister of Tourism talks about driving the Nigerian Project with ‘brand diplomacy’ or like you have seen on CNN ‘fascinating Nigeria project’ is the new slogan. Director General of N.T.D.C , Sally Mbanefo aims to grow the tourism sector into a 4 billion dollar industry. By establishing travel hubs as well as one stop tourism centers in the six geo-political zones.

So much for a the rhetoric of President Jonathans nebulous transformation agenda. They all should read the end of the third paragraph of this write up: FOCUS ON THE BASICS. Provide roads, electricity, water, tax system and an enabling business environment for locals and foreign investors to thrive Shikena!

If the government can focus on this and less on its proverbial ‘white elephant projects’ Nigeria will grow.

BOOM!