By Fidelia Samuel
IT is a sad fact that despite the new trail to follow global sustainable tourism development, developing tourism in Nigeria looms ahead of government as one of the most torturous projects to embark upon. Government is paying little attention to the sector. Tourism has become a bothersome venture in the eyes of the government and this often reinforces mistaken assumptions about the immeasurable blessings accrued to the sector.
Facts do not kill. The itch to know and learn and discover the promise of tourism in Nigeria provided me with the instincts to look in the right places for answers to some of the challenges in the sector, especially this time when the economic recession is pummelling the country.
The sobering state of the tourism sector is amazingly time to get the pot boiling. The sector needs new stimulation for developmental growth and a firm grounding to attain powerful sickles of harvest.
The tourism sector, perhaps more than any other industry in Nigeria is laden with largely unexamined assumptions and beliefs. Recent theories suggest that people who have developed a great deal of prior knowledge about an industry learn more about it when they re-examine the truth of those beliefs, many of which may no longer be valid or may simply be misconceptions.
The “experts” must learn and unlearn. Government need to take a whack at and accommodate a wider range of contributions from stakeholders. Stakeholders are developmental partners and not competitors. Iron sharpeneth iron, they say.
My fondness for tourism in Nigeria grows as I learn that when you commit to an enormous goal that far exceeds your current capability, willpower will not solve the problem. Rather, you will need a new environment that organically generates your goals – a context that ‘forces’ you to become more than you currently are. Once you design the right conditions, your desired behaviour naturally follows.
It is impossible to imagine trudging up mountains without the counsel of stakeholders in the tourism sector, with whom government must immeasurably collaborate and graciously adopt their recommendations. Government must share stakeholder’s enthusiasm for tourism and closely work with all key stakeholders along the value chain.
Unfortunately, procrastination ails government tourism developmental processes. Whenever possible, embracing the spirit and willingness to achieve results by using the ideas of others to shape ideas of their own will help solve specific challenges as they arise.
I obviously feel pretty delighted when others, people who are not even Nigerians fall in love with our natural tourist sites in contrast with what they see (man-made and artificial tourist sites) elsewhere in the world.
Government must reconceive their developmental structure and put practical efforts and short-range overall tourism goals to rebuild the sector.
Government must continue to create fresh awareness for continuous flow of in-bound tourists because eagles will only gather where fresh meat is found. It takes fresh awareness among others to sustain the growth of the tourism sector.