Are We Ready for Tourism?

With all due respect for what Tourism Minister Edem Duke and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC)D-G, Otunba Segun Runsewe, have actually done and the right noises they are making as Nigeria’s tourism salesmen to raise awareness about the need for tourism development in the country, my answer to the above question is a big ‘no’. As a nation, we are not yet ready to develop our tourism sites which nature has so bountifully blessed us with in order to grow our economy. At the political and policy level, we have been content with just mouthing sentiments about the huge potential we have in diversifying our oil-dependent economy through the development of our many tourism sites. I am afraid that beyond that, nothing concrete seems to have been done or is being done to actually develop the tourism industry. Today this industry is the least developed of all our economic sectors. How sad, given its potential to become a major revenue earner for the country.

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From what I see, I doubt if there is any tourism policy or master plan which has been drawn which sets out in a systematic manner what and what and what needs to be done in what order in order for the country to have a vibrant tourism industry. If such a plan or policy exists, one will see on ground evidence of deliberate efforts to develop roads, rail tracks and airports or air strips which would specifically link potential tourists to major identified tourism sites.

One would have also seen in evidence other tourism support infrastructure such as dedicated power supply to tourists’ towns and villages, their planned development as well as the provision of water and improved security in those specific places. The absence of a special attention given to them may be a reflection of the generally poor level of our development. But our people have a saying that a wise man uses money to catch more money as seen in the fact that the colonial masters paid special attention to places of economic importance to them.

There are many things that make a country become a major tourists’ destination but here I will concentrate on the state of our hotels with emphasis on the manpower that run them. I do so because hotels are a vital part of the tourism industry.

Without sounding churlish, I wish to state that less than one per cent of the personnel running our hotels is professionally trained to do so. Right from the reception to other areas of the running of a typical hotel or hospitality outfit, you see this in much evidence. As a member of the National Good Governance Tour team, we have had to lodge in hotels across the country. I am therefore speaking authoritatively about what I and millions of others have experienced and keep experiencing even as we are now talking.

I just wonder to myself why our people spend millions and possibly billions of Naira to build hotels yet there are no properly trained personnel to run them in a manner that would woo a lodger or user to come back another time. Most of the workers are rude, impolite, discourteous and very, very unprofessional and unethical in their conduct. In short, many of them have no business going to work in a place which requires courtesy, politeness, patience, hard work and ability to pet anybody. My conclusion, based on what I have observed, is that we are not yet ready to encourage tourism.

Apart from the poor attitude of hotel workers, there is also the problem of the actual running of the hotels. In a typical Nigerian hotel, you will see rooms where dead bulbs are not replaced; where the fans don’t work; where old air conditioners that need to be refilled with gas are not refilled so they hum and rev like jet engines but cannot cool the room; where the toilets cannot flush properly; where leaks in the sewer system are not sealed so the place stinks like an abattoir; where the water supply system does not function well and where a thousand and one minor things that ought to be attended to immediately for the comfort of the guests are not attended to which make you yearn to return to the comfort and familiarity of your home. Yet many of these hotels have the audacity to advertise their places as home away from home!

Now a tourist does not leave his home or his country thousands of miles away to come and listen to your agony stories about the insensitivity of the top management of the facility or of the development challenges facing your country. All he wants, or all he expected when he left his home, was to be ‘spoilt’ out there. Simple. That is his goal and he is not about to be apologetic about it. He wants excitement. He wants to be treated like royalty. He cannot be trying to escape the boredom of his familiar existence back home only to end up in a place that is short of even the basic necessities of life. He is not out for torture of any kind.

I am not a tourism expert but from the little practical experience I have had in my interaction with workers in the hotel industry, Duke and his team in the tourism sector need to do certain things very urgently. One, there is need for a national policy, or if one indeed exists, need to update it, placing emphasis on how to develop our tourism sites with the help of foreign investors. Two and most importantly, to have another policy for the training of personnel in the tourism industry ranging from tour guides to even the cleaner in the hotel facility. Even with the severe lack of development of tourism sites, properly trained or oriented workers can make some substantial difference. Right now what we have are like deploying agberos in the motor parks to go and play the role of masseurs in amenity facilities.

What we need are men and women who are trained to ‘spoil’ people who have laboured and want to have rest. Hotel patrons are very finicky and demanding people and to deal successfully with them requires enormous amount of time, patience and care. It is not a job for the untrained or the impatient or the lazy. But our personnel in the tourism industry seem trained, or rather untrained, to give annoyance through sheer ignorance of, or indifference to, the needs and cares of those who set out from their own homes to give themselves a treat and feel good that God has blessed them.

Runsewe’s NTDC needs to actually commence the classification or grading of our hotels and pleasure spots and insist that minimum standards in terms of facilities and personnel are maintained. Our hotels should only be manned by people who have undergone a specified course of theoretical and practical training. It should not be an all-comers affair as is the case now. NTDC personnel should be undertaking frequent and unannounced visits to our hotels to inspect and regulate their activities. I will love to see a situation whereby some which fail to keep to the required standards are sealed and only re-opened when they measure up to what is expected of them.

If you go round Nigeria you will discover that it is incredibly beautiful with places that look like the replica of the Garden of Eden. It is our duty to develop such places and tap the treasures there to grow our economy and provide places of relaxation and recreation for our people and foreigners alike.



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Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Olamide posted on 11-10-2012, 08:11:37 AM
Good article there. Right from the time you are approaching MMIA, you are already discouraged because from teh sky, Lagos look like a city that just finished a long civil war. Enter MMIA and you are embarrassed by the facilities or lack of them. A nice toilet is available though at the D wing and I was shocked to see it on my recent trip. With contant darkness, area boys, armed robbers, kidnappers, fraudsters, bad roads and dirty streets, I don't know what any tourist will be looking for in Nigeria. We have tourist attractions but how do you get the tourists to the Ikogosi Warm Springs for example or to Benin?
Our tourism guys are just jerking off as you mentioned and they are not ready to work.
Let there be contant power supply, repair the roads, eliminate area boys, kidnappers and minimize crime and the tourists will come. They will go to the hotels where they receive the best treatment and this will improve the bad attitude of hotel staff you noticed. It is all over Nigeria. there is no client orientation for staff.
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Anioma777 posted on 11-10-2012, 08:46:48 AM
A good article but one aspect sadly overlooked is how many Nigerians visit other parts of Nigeria unless to go and see relatives, business etc. When promoting tourism you need to get the indigenous people to buy into it first before foreigners will arrive en masse. We have the natural environment but is the will power and maintenance culture in place?
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Ewuro posted on 11-10-2012, 09:05:43 AM
We have everything that would drive tourists away. Thye biggest level of corruption. Lack of infrastructure: transportaion; roads, railways, sea travel, air travel is very dangerous; no elecdtric power; no portable water; very rude customer service; insecurity; armed robbers, kidnapping, road accidents, police brutality;
The minstry of tourism should be scrapped until we are able to have a decent level of infrastructure and guarantee security. Even Nigerians dont tour except to visit relatives and friends.
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Emj posted on 11-10-2012, 09:46:27 AM
I dont know what the writer was smoking but i want some of it.........he who dares to write about the sad state of affairs.

How do we get Nigerians interested in Nigeria?

People use to travel all the way from Lagos, Abeotua, Enugu etc to Jos to see the tourist attraction there, but lack of security of life and property makes that an impossible trip to embark on.
One cant even attempt to travel on our roads, if the bad roads dont do you in arm robbers or kidnappers will show you how far...

Nigerians within Nigeria are in prison in their own country .....the few foreigners that brave the odds to come have someone on ground to guide them through or rather help navigate through the unsafe environment.
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Purple posted on 11-10-2012, 11:54:05 AM
Good article by Alibi. How can we translate his good ideas into practical action? Are we prepared as individuals to inconvenience ourselves and demand to speak to hotel management and airport higher ups? Or do we as usual lick our wounds and grumble into our mustache or lipstick?
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Elegg posted on 11-12-2012, 05:59:26 AM
My take on this piece is well articulated by Chinua Achebe in his book 'The Trouble with Nigeria' published in 1984. And i quote:

'Listen to Nigeria leaders and you will frequently hear the phrase this great country of ours.

Nigeria is not a great country. It is one of the most disorderly nations in the world. It is one of the most corrupt, insensitive, inefficient places under the sun. It is one of the most expensive countries and one of those that give least value for money. It is dirty, callous, noisy, ostentatious, dishonest and vulgar. In short, it is amongst the most unpleasant places on earth!

It is a measure of our self delusion that we can talk about developing tourism in Nigeria. Only a masochist with an exuberant taste for self violence will pick Nigeria for a holiday; only a character out of Tutuola seeking to know punishment and poverty at first hand! No, Nigeria may be a paradise for adventurers and pirates, but not tourists'



I rest my case!!
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Lol posted on 11-14-2012, 08:47:27 AM
is he talking about Tourism or terrorism?
I think Nigeria is ready for terrorism not tourism.
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Ajibs posted on 11-14-2012, 09:15:12 AM
QUOTE:
We have everything that would drive tourists away. Thye biggest level of corruption. Lack of infrastructure: transportaion; roads, railways, sea travel, air travel is very dangerous; no elecdtric power; no portable water; very rude customer service; insecurity; armed robbers, kidnapping, road accidents, police brutality;
The minstry of tourism should be scrapped until we are able to have a decent level of infrastructure and guarantee security. Even Nigerians dont tour except to visit relatives and friends.


I can't believe I will agree with Ewuro here. That is a very sad and very true statement.

IMHO Corruption though is not the main issue preventing tourism, it is the insecurity all over the country.

Can any sane thinking Nigerian advise a tourist to go to Nigeria rent a car and go on a solo driving discovery trip ANYWHERE in the country?

The sad part is Nigeria has some great tourist attractions: Obudu ranch, Yankare game reserve, Olumo rock, Ikogosi warm springs, Twin Seven Seven / Oshogbo shrines, Argungu Festival, Calabar festival, Shiroro falls, The confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue in Lokoja, beautiful beaches all along its coastlines (not where the oil companies have spoiled the beach).

You could take your family back to Nigeria for a fantastic vacation... but Whoside!!!
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Enyi posted on 11-14-2012, 10:25:47 AM
QUOTE:
A good article but one aspect sadly overlooked is how many Nigerians visit other parts of Nigeria unless to go and see relatives, business etc. When promoting tourism you need to get the indigenous people to buy into it first before foreigners will arrive en masse. We have the natural environment but is the will power and maintenance culture in place?


A more pertinent question is-how many Nigerians can really afford the finance to have real holidays? Many are struggling every month to make ends meet. I am aware that in some countries, one can borrow from financial institutions for a holiday trip.

@Alibi
Congratulations for this objective write up.
Re: Are We Ready for Tourism?
Naijametro posted on 11-15-2012, 02:57:28 AM
very interesting article. There's a lot of potential in the country, however we should not expect the government to do everything. They need to provide the necessary infrastructure and private enterprise can partner to create a thriving tourism industry.
The NaijaMetro site focuses on the tourism potential of Nigeria. It's quite challenging but there's hope and some improvement
[URL=http://www.naijametro.com]Discover Nigeria's hidden beauty[/URL]
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