Every year, Nigerians spend a lot traveling abroad for vacations, some even go as far as taking bank loans for that purpose.
A lot of tour packaging and travel agencies do not have packages that include traveling Nigeria, and every time I bring it up in a conversation amongst my friends, the response is usually “who travel Nigeria help?”
To answer that, tourism contributes towards complete growth and development of a country, by bringing economic values and benefits, and it helps in building a country’s brand value, image and identity. No one will appreciate or willingly come to your country if you are not willing to travel and show it to the world.
Nigeria is one of the very few countries in the world that has the human and mineral capacity to be in the league of first nations in the world, with weather that is eco-friendly all year round and almost zero natural disasters except for the occasional flood in most parts which only happen when there is subsistent rainfall. Why then is our tourism industry not growing? An Industry that is worth over 8trn USD globally yet we are not positioned or positioning ourselves to tap into that market despite having a UNESCO world heritage site.
With the boom in oil since the 70s, we have witnessed and still witnessing the collapse of a lot of industries. Agriculture that was once our major GDP contributor collapsed.
From the Arochukwu cave in Abia to Kwiambana forest reserve in Zamafara State. These are potential GDP contributors, and the mismanagement of these resources has led to miscreants using it as hideouts and more, and the states lose a lot of revenues, direct and indirect job creations from the total neglect of these tourist sites.
Nigeria is a country with over 300 ethnicities with each ethnicity boosting of at least one major festival that is capable of attracting visitors from far and wide if properly managed, which brings me to why managing information is our second biggest challenge as a country and also one of the major setbacks limiting the growth of tourism in Nigeria. Tourism in Nigeria is directly under the Ministry of Information, ironically even the Ministry’s website has no proper information and database of Festivals, tourist destinations and why you should visit Nigeria.
Kenya is not a better tourist destination than Nigeria neither is Cape Town with its crime rate (one of the highest in the world). Because their information management system is better than ours, they are able to attract more tourists and generate billions from tourism.
I made a post on social media saying I will like to travel the entire 37 States including Abuja, and a lot of people cited crime, kidnappers and all sort of bad things as the reason why that idea is a bad one, and the same people easily agreed we go Accra or Cape Town. We will take money from here and make sure someone in Accra has a job instead of someone in Abeokuta.
Our information management system is so poor that we use every available opportunity to demarket the country. Nollywood is supposed to be one of such mouthpieces, but half the time the movies paint a terrible picture of our culture and country.
It should be a combined effort with the government taking the lead, regulating certain things and ensuring visitors have a sense of security when visiting. We need a comprehensive list of all major festivals happening in Nigeria and at what times of the year, invite the Nigerians first, and the world second.
Memorabilia with places to visit can help as well.