The newly elected President of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), says that less than three per cent of tourists visiting Africa annually choose Nigeria as their tourism destinations.
Saleh Rabo, the FTAN president, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Monday that the figure was low compared to other African countries that usually recorded huge patronage of international tourists.
He attributed the low patronage to poor tourist infrastructures in Nigeria, especially at the leading tourism destinations. He said that Nigerian tour operators and travel agencies would be more interested in packaging Nigerian tourists to domestic destinations if Nigerian sites are more accessible and better managed.
He lamented on the near zero flight connectivity to tourist sites and, made worse by the bad road networks.
“I am a tour operator and a travel agent, hence I am certain that we would do more, if Nigeria is better promoted at our tourist source markets.
Our government and other stakeholders need to invest more in promoting our destinations, that is one of the reasons outbound tourism thrives in Nigeria. Foreign destination managers come to Nigeria in droves to market their tourist products and destinations.
“It is not surprising that, most Nigerian tourists know more about tourist destinations in Dubai and the West, than they know about Nigerian tourist destinations,” he said.
Mr. Rabo said there was a dearth of data about tourism consumption and market patterns both federal and state government have no data that show the impact of tourism receipts on Nigeria economy.
He said that FTAN would partner multinational organisations and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), to set up structures that would be collating tourists’ data at all leading tourists’ destinations in Nigeria.
Mr. Rabo said that these would enable the government to know the impacts and contributions of tourism sector to the Nigerian economy. He stressed further that the Federation was the biggest investor in Nigerian tourism industry.
“It has been contributing enormously to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employs thousands of Nigerians across the country,” he said.
Mr. Rabo said that the association members include: hoteliers; travel agencies, tour operators, tourism academia, travel journalists and cultural artisans.
“For us in Nigeria, our main tourist attraction is the diversity of our cultural heritage. “So, in marketing Nigeria we would ascertain what countries are interested in African, that is, Nigerian culture and simply execute targeted marketing and promotions at those countries. ”
This would include roadshows, exhibition, mass advertisements and, very importantly, social media marketing campaigns, ” he said .
He said that the association members have already know some of our international tourist source markets but the research findings will tell us how we are presently perceived at those markets so that we can tailor our marketing communication to address the tourists’ needs and concerns.
“With time you will see how things would evolve in Nigeria’s tourism management, ” Ftan president said.
Rabo said that the association determined goal was to richly grow the domestic tourism market in Nigeria.
“Specifically, to see significant improvement in our hospitality services, enrich our destination tourist facilities, increase the number of recorded tourist arrivals at tourist sites. ”
Also, to ensure significant increase in the contribution of tourism to Nigeria’s GDP and other internal generated revenue for States in Nigeria.
“We are very confident that we shall achieve and exceed these targets in the next three to four years, ” Rabo said.