ABUJA, Nigeria – Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Sally Mbanefo has announced that 4,037,808 inbound tourists visited Nigeria in 2013, spending $649.47 million.
Compared to 1,414,000 tourist arrivals recorded in 2009 when number was last calculated, according to the World Bank, the new figure represents 185 per cent increase in tourism arrivals last year.
Mbanefo made this disclosure in a presentation titled “Promoting Domestic Tourism: Tool For National Economic Development,” which was delivered on Tuesday at a two-day tourism investors’ forum and exhibition, held in Abuja.
The event, which ended on Wednesday, was organised by Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN).
The NTDC boss said tourism in Nigeria contributed so much to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but very little is attributed to it, hence the difficulties of government in the recent past to see it as a major contributor to national GDP.
She however, did not mince words, saying tourism is the next alternative to oil and gas revenue generation.
According to her, most recent data by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) showed that current global tourism contributions to GDP is approaching $7 trillion, accounting for 9.3 per cent of global GDP and that the industry accounts for 8.7 of global employment with an estimated yearly growth rate of 2.4 per cent.
Notwithstanding, the higher income gainer is domestic tourism, she said.
According to UNWTO 2008 report, out of the 4.8 billion tourist arrivals per year across the world, four billion (83 per cent) correspond to domestic tourism.
Locating this trend on Nigerian context, she said religious tourism alone generated over a million domestic tourists in 2013, adding that Osun Osogbo festival recorded 21, 713 domestic tourists including 123 international tourists with the expenditure of N58.23 million, while Abuja Carnival recorded 19, 015 domestic tourists and a substantial number of international tourists.
FTAN President, Tomi Akingbogun, highlighted the challenges facing tourism sector in Nigeria, which according to him, include insecurity, multiple taxation, lack of infrastructure, and lack of patronage from government among others.
“Less than three per cent of the Nigerian land mass is affected by terrorism and militancy. However, this has resulted in decrease of about 50 per cent in tourism patronage.”
He said the government’s charges such as business premises registration fees, sign board fees, tenement rate, liquor licence, nigeria social insurance trust fund (nsitf), vat, guest parking bill, water and electricity bill and others, are responsible for high overheads, which negatively affect hospitality business in Nigeria. “Even NIPOST is planning to introduce stamp duties of N50 per N1000 (five per cent),” he said.
The FTAN Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Samuel Alabi advised the government to create a special intervention fund in excess of N500 billion through the Central Bank of Nigeria to be accessed by operators in the tourism sector or set up a Tourism Development Bank to provide credit facility for the industry operators.
He also advised that the government should take data capturing of the tourism industry serious.
Source: eTN Global Travel Industry News