For middle-class Nigerians who usually vacation abroad, traveling domestically is an unusual choice, but that may be changing, especially among millennials.
Local travel startups are inspiring millennials to pick local tourism over vacations abroad, aided in part by a slowing Nigerian economy, Quartz reported.
Since 2016, Nigeria’s naira has fallen in value against the dollar. Strict currency controls and spending caps on bank cards have made foreign vacations a lot more expensive and less appealing. It got so bad that some international airlines operating in Nigeria cut back on flights or shut down operations.
Air travel and tourism in Nigeria contributed 1.7 percent to the country’s gross domestic product in 2016, according to a 2017 report by the World Travel & Tourism Council, a U.K.-based member organization formed by CEOs that advocates for public-private partnerships. Nigeria ranked 171st out of 185 countries for cash flow from travel and tourism.
A crop of local companies are making it easier to travel around and experience Nigeria.
Irinajo (the name means “journey” in Yoruba) offers trips to tourist spots across Nigeria and is known for curating group trips and finding clients on social media.
Founder Adedamola Idowu started Irinajo two years ago after years of exploring Nigeria by himself. Travel blogger Funmi Oyatogun started TVP Adventures to tap into interest in local travel.
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“So many people are interested in exploring Nigeria,” Oyatogun told Quartz. “(They) want to travel but it’s too much of a hassle putting the pieces together.”
Pan-African tour operators are unanimous about Nigeria’s huge tourism potential, The Guardian reported. They attribute the country’s underdeveloped tourism sectors to lack of a clear destination marketing strategy and lack of synergy between travel stakeholders.
Developing a country as a tourism destination requires federal government involvement, said Stella Fubara, director of Africa travel for Dubai Tourism.
“The government has the key role in marketing destinations. Yes, government don’t own hotels, airlines, attraction, destinations and taxis. But government has the good policies to foster all the critical stakeholders, without giving anyone preferential treatment over the other.”
Working out travel logistics, planning group trips around national holidays and promoting the experiences heavily on social media have been key to winning over customers, Quartz reported.
Oyatogun says TVP Adventures has had more than 1,500 bookings since it launched in October 2016 and is averaging three group trips per month, up from one every two months when it first launched.
Irinajo expects to reach 1,000 bookings this year and 20 percent of them are repeat customers.