From Oxford Business Group.
Nigerian tourism hasn’t kept up with the country’s recent economic growth. That’s about to change.
Poor infrastructure, restrictive visas, underinvestment and security concerns are among the reasons tourism in Nigeria remained relatively underdeveloped and largely overlooked in 2012 by a government and investors with other priorities, according to a report in Oxford Business Group.
Nigerian tourism contributed 1.5 percent to the country’s gross domestic product in 2012, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The country ranked 181st in the world in terms of its size relative to GDP.
In 2013, however, Nigeria’s tourism industry is expected to be one of the fastest-growing in the world. Growth in tourism is forecast at 13.5 percent this year, with average annual growth of 6.2 percent between 2013 and 2023, the council says.
The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria should establish a tourism development fund, possibly based on a bed tax to help fund development and promotion, said association President Samuel Alabi.
Such a fund could provide attractive financing for tourism enterprises, some of which find it difficult to access bank credit, he said.
As in other sectors, tourism business owners sometimes have to use electricity generators and build their own roads, driving up costs and discouraging investment, the report says. Improving broader infrastructure and utilities would help support the development of tourism in Nigeria, said Goodie Ibru, president of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce.
A restrictive visa application process has been partly relaxed, with visitors now able to apply for visas on arrival online.
Nigeria’s first Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition was held in May. Industry stakeholders discussed ways the industry can access funding for development including promotion; the role of tourism in driving economic growth; creating products and establishing destinations that can be marketed to domestic tourists before being offered on the international market; and enhancing the relationship between investors and tourism companies.
Read more at Oxford Business Group.