The new reality of the world caught all unaware. Worst hit is the business of travels, hospitality and stakeholders in the tourism value chain. According to a report by the World Tourism Organization, the beginning of the year looked promising for African tourism, having recorded a 2.5% increase in inbound international passengers. However, due to travel restrictions across the world, the promising light dimmed. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, international tourists’ arrivals over the first quarter plummeted in a downward spiral by 35.2% affecting several economies.
In the same vein, in a recent forecast, the African Development Bank (AFDB) disclosed that countries dependent on oil and tourism for foreign exchange and fiscal revenues would face huge revenue loss. While this calls for concern, according to Nneka Isaac Moses, Goge Africa’s MD, “Covid-19 is a blessing in disguise”. This assertion though ironic, is cemented by the truism that with a depleted economy dependent on crude oil dollars, the government can assiduously chase its long crawling diversification of the economy.
The presence of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased health concerns and international travel restrictions: “This is a good time to tap into Nigeria’s travelling population,” says Amb. Isaac Moses, the Managing Director of Goge Africa. If properly harnessed, tourism promises to jump-start the economy from its imminent recession.
Tourism could become a catalyst for the rejuvenation of other accompanying sectors of the economy, especially with increasing travel culture, growing middle class, adventurous and vivacious youth, there is no better time to develop Nigeria’s domestic tourism.
This imperative led to the convening of a “Cross-Sectoral Collaboration for Tourism and Economic Development” by Goge Africa founders – Isaac & Nneka Moses, which witnessed intensive discourse between tourism and allied stakeholders across diverse sectors of the economy within Nigeria and in the Diaspora. Recognizing the place of collaboration towards the achievement of a viable tourism industry in Nigeria, the discourse culminated to the formation of a pioneer Domestic Tourism Working Committee backed by tourism supportive financial institution, Sterling Bank and MTN Nigeria who have been at the forefront of domestic tourism development through sponsorship of numerous community festivals in Nigeria.
The Working-Committee is assigned to carry out the following tasks:
• To drive the actualization of outcomes of the conference by establishing realistic criteria for existing and upcoming investors.
• To determine the best areas to apply the fund from Sterling Bank and the conditions for access that will ensure sustainability.
• To re-position domestic tourism in line with international best practices in tourism establishments.
• Orientation of the local communities where these tourist sites exists on best practices in tourism operations.
• To conduct and give a comprehensive report on the pre & post impact of these investments within the local communities.
• Follow-up on media to re- brand Nigeria’s image and attract tourists.
Members of the committee pooled from diverse sectors of the economy include the following individuals:
- Tourism & Cultural Institution – Goge Africa Worldwide Limited; Amb. Isaac Moses, Nneka Isaac-Moses,
- Financial Institution – Mr. Wasiu Popoola & Ms. Abiola Adelana, Sterling Bank;
- Corporate Nigeria – Kester Osahenye, MTN Nigeria;
- Aviation – Dr. Alex Nwuba, President, Association of Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AAOPA);
- Diaspora – Sir. Joe Madu, President, US-Africa Chamber of Commerce;
- Media – Pelu Awofeso, CNN Award-Winning Journalist;
- Tourism Associations – Alh. Saleh Rabo, FTAN;
- Hospitality – Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, Founder, La Champagne Tropicana;
- Tourism Photographer – Dayo Adedayo; Tourism Entreprenuer – Efetobo Awhana, Nigeria Travel Week;
- Young Tourism Entreprenuer – Nnenna Fakoya-Smith, Neneuwa Hub;
- Digital Media Consultant – Tunde Owoeye-Foster, Phoster Solutions Limited;
- Nollywood (Film Sector) – Mr. Chukwuemeka Rollas, President, Actors Guild of Nigeria;
- Tourism Entreprenuer – Dr. Mohammad Adamu, Bauchi Friends.
- Consultative Team includes:
- Patricia Narai, Director of Domestic Tourism, Fed. Min. of Information & Culture;
- Mrs. Chidinma Nwabugwu, Secretary, Technical Committee, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON);
- Mr. Bonu Solomon, Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Arts, Culture & Tourism, Mr. Brian e Ebden, Communication & Marketing Consultant.
The Chairman of the Committee, an experienced Tourism practitioner, Otunba Akinboboye, has hit the ground running by identifying Nigeria as a motley of exotic culture, which sets her apart from other countries. This distinct feature has led to the recommendation of Cultural and Heritage Tourism as the pillar upon which other subsets of Nigeria’s tourism potential would be fully developed. According to him “we want to be known as the cultural capital of the world as no other country has such abundant unique cultural heritage as we do. So we need to build our destination on that central theme and other aspects would evolve around it.”
The group in the coming days shall make recommendations on the low hanging fruits in Nigeria tourism potential and destinations across the Six Geo-political zones of the country. They shall also recommend tourism investments for access of the seed fund of 5 billion Naira made available by Sterling Bank upon presentation of bankable projects while scouting for other potential investors within and outside Nigeria.
Goge Africa…Dedicated to Africa’s development.