Nigeria’s tourism sector is scandalously under-developed. Nigeria is home to a diverse number of ethnic groups, cultures, and rich cultural heritage. There are groups who have a history of engaging in pottery and carvings, artifacts, etc. There are also natural tourist centres like the Olumo Rock in Ogun State, Yankari Game Reserve and resort in Bauchi State, Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross Rivers state, etc. There are also cultural events such as festivals like the Calabar Carnival and Eyo Masquerade festival etc.
One who decides to go on a tour to any country will definitely weigh the pros and cons of his destination. Is it any surprise that many foreigners refuse to choose Nigeria as their tourist destination? The tourism industry in Nigeria has a host of simple and multi-layered problems. This article highlights the problems of the tourism industry and also solutions to these problems
Problems Hindering Tourism in Nigeria & Solutions
Over the years, Nigeria has battled its own share of security challenges such as terrorism, robberies, kidnappings etc. All these contribute to Nigeria’s problems in the tourism sector. No visitor would want to visit a country if they knew they were not so secure in it. This makes Nigeria an unlikely choice for foreigners when selecting a place to tour. The concerns of foreigners about the security challenges in Nigeria negatively affects the growth of the tourism industry in Nigeria.
Lack of proper management
Most tourist attractions in Nigeria are poorly managed. Areas such as beaches, waterfalls, mountains and hills are usually deserted, overcrowded, or lack basic amenities. It is so sad and such a pity that even many Nigerians do not fancy the tourist centres in their own country.
Lack of adequate medical/health care facilities
Nigeria has a poor health care system. This is worsened by the practice of elites in Nigeria who travel abroad for medical attention and treatment. This gives the image of an unreliable health care system in the country. If tourists are not assured of good medical treatment, they would be discouraged from traveling to Nigeria.
Multiple taxations by governments
One of the biggest setbacks to businesses and particularly in the tourism industry is the issue of multiple taxations at both federal and state levels of government. Many businesses in the private tourism sector such as hotels and resorts have had their businesses closed down because of the manner in which the government seeks ways to milk them dry. Thus, the tourism industry does not grow as investors are scared away by the tax system while and those in operation find it extremely difficult.
In spite of the fact that operators in the private tourism sector are presently the largest financial investors in Nigeria’s tourism industry, the government does not offer any incentives such as the acquisition of lands and assets, provision of basic utilities, etc to serve as compensation for the hundreds of millions of Naira invested in the tourism sector. This is especially true for local businesses who are often driven to bankruptcy and have to close their businesses. The tax system is supposed to support businesses and not
Lack of infrastructure at most tourist sites
The lack of basic amenities and infrastructures across the country is enough to stifle the growth of the tourism industry in Nigeria. Most road networks in Nigeria are bad and not motorable due to erosions and potholes. This includes roads that lead to tourist attractions with huge potentials. Basic infrastructures to include electricity, water, etc. are mostly poorly maintained. The Nigerian government often focuses on the urban areas even in the formulation of policies while neglecting the fact that major tourist attractions that would generate revenue for the government are located in rural communities far from cities. Many of these rural communities lack basic amenities.
Bad image and perception of Nigeria by foreigners
The perception of Nigerians abroad is a very sad one. Many see the country as a nation of fraudsters and criminals. Indeed, there are many Nigerians who engage in fraudulent activities, but this is true of all nations of the world. In fact, many countries with fast-developing tourism industries have higher crime rates than Nigeria. The difference however is that these other countries control narratives of their countries through broadcast and mass media. The problem of the poor perception of Nigerians can be addressed through effective public communications campaign by the Ministry of Information in partnership with the Federal Ministry of tourism. The ministry of information should come up with campaigns to be executed on media channels so as to counter their negative perception about Nigerians. This will help change the perception of foreigners about Nigerians and further encourage foreigners to visit Nigeria.
Solutions to problems of Tourism in Nigeria
Research and Audit
The first step to be taken in order to revive the tourism industry in Nigeria is that research and audit of tourist attractions in Nigeria should be done so the Ministry of Tourism can know the state of tourism assets in Nigeria and if it has commercial value. This research and audit should be done by both local and international experts, tourism-friendly governments, and tourism service provider associations in Nigeria.
Identification of market
The government needs to identify both domestic and international markets for the tourism industry in Nigeria.
Policies and laws that encourage the private tourism sector
Government policies and laws that will encourage the private tourism sector and foreign investment in tourism should be adopted and implemented. One of the ways the government can encourage the participation of the private sector in tourism is through loan guarantees and tax exemptions. Areas that need investment in Nigeria include natural tourist sites, availability of equipment, etc.
Provision of Amenities
Development of basic infrastructures in Nigeria such as good roads, clean water, electricity, etc.
Encouragement of domestic tourism
Nigerians should be encouraged to visit tourist sites within the nation instead of having to spend so much and invest in other foreign countries. This will reduce the millions of both Naira and Dollars spent on vacations in foreign countries. It will also provide more employment opportunities in Nigeria.