Tourism and Hospitality in Nigeria

The Nigerian tourism and hospitality industries are intertwined. Hence, there is a slim line between them. For context, tourism in Nigeria covers all forms of movement of people to various locations across and beyond Nigeria. Tourism involves the movement of people outside the domestic environment, which is a major reason it serves and is a significant contributor to the GDP of some countries. Some of these countries are Macau, Aruba, Maldives, St Kitts, and Nevis.

On the other hand, hospitality is seen as one of the many extensions of tourism and has been identified as a significant part of tourism; this involves all forms of service that include houses, feeding, transporting, and entertaining visitors outside their natural base. Indeed, there is a thin line between these sectors. Thinking of tourism in Nigeria immediately drags attention to the vast difference in cultural sites and key entertainment events in the country; however, tourism extends beyond this to the conscious effort by leaders to create a memorable place and site attraction for visitors worldwide. This is the central act that separates countries with high contributions from tourism. These countries have intentionally made natural habitats more appealing and attractive to visitors, creating sustainable revenue sources for the government and residents. Given its gradual growth, the question is whether Nigeria as a Nation can replicate this over time.

From a global perspective, the hospitality sector contributes to a large extent to the development of many countries around the world. According to a projection by STATISTA, it is projected to reach $927.30bn by 2024. However, the global aviation restriction laws and lockdown effect saw the contribution of tourism drop significantly.

According to recent data, only the Middle East has shrouded the lockdown’s impact on the sector. When taken to Nigeria in Africa, the focus reveals a struggling growth pattern for this sector from the calm of the pandemic. While people move freely, this has yet to translate to the same level of growth before the global crisis. This is partly associated with the consideration that Nigeria’s tourism and hospitality sector is still at the infant stage compared to other countries. However, there has been recent interest in Africa, given the unique features of weather and people.

Throughout 2018–2023, the GDP contribution of the lodging and food service industry in Nigeria varied. The pandemic’s effects caused the industry to collapse by -17.75% in 2020 after very minor growth in 2018 and 2019. Nevertheless, it has shown tenacity by recovering and seeing positive growth in 2021–2023, surpassing pre–pandemic levels. It demonstrates the industry’s resilience in the face of hardship and emphasizes the value on culture monetization and urban aesthetic when supported with the right environment and economic conditions.

Mambilla Plateau Taraba State, Nigeria Source: TCN

Nigeria still boasts many sites of attraction for tourists yearly. But there is a need to understand the state of tourism and hospitality in the country. To dive into the Nigerian tourism space, the African Hotel chain development pipeline data reveals that the continent has 482 hotels, with 84,427 in 2023. The United Nations World Tourism Organization Barometer of the year stated that international tourism ended 2023 at 88% of pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals. These activities easily help employment of people in the tourist counties, with travel and tourism contributing a 4.9% to employment across the continent.

The implication has seen many Quick Service Restaurants emerge and remain vital as they serve the country’s national and tourists. When people visit, they tend to look for a temporally home feeling in Nigeria; according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture, some of the leading service providers for tourists in Nigeria are;

Leading Hotels

Source: Eko Hotel
  1. Eko hotel & Suites
  2. Hilton Hotels & Resort
  3. Marriot Hotels and Resort
  4. Sun International Group
  5. Le Meridien
  6. Radisson Blu

Leading Food service chains

Source: Bizpoint24 – Chicken Republic
  1. Chicken Republic
  2. KFC
  3. Mr Bigg’s
  4. Domino Pizza
  5. Tastee Fried Chicken
  6. Kilimanjaro
  7. Tantalizers

Leading Food Retail

Source: 24wallst
  1. Shoprite
  2. SPAR
  3. Next Cash and Carry
  4. Hubmart
  5. Market Square

Key Elements of Tourism Attraction Sites

UNWTO projected a 6.2% per year to the GDP in the next ten years, which is connected to the country’s rich heritage, with over 250 ethnic groups and a diverse array of traditions, arts, cuisines, and the beautiful landscapes, national parks, and waterfalls. Some of the prominent attraction’s tourist centre are:

Nigeria’s tourist sector has demonstrated encouraging growth potential, and forecasts point to substantial economic benefits in the years to come. As of this now, tourism brings in a sizable sum of money—$2.95 billion in 2023—and is expected to grow even more, hitting $3.74 billion by 2027. Numerous causes, including rising urbanization, digital innovation, and changing consumer lifestyles, are responsible for this expansion. Furthermore, cultural tourism is important; 40% of foreign visitors are drawn by cultural experiences. In order to further promote industry growth, the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) leads government initiatives to improve tourist destinations and infrastructure. Furthermore, the $602.5 million organized fast-food market illustrates another facet of Nigeria’s changing economy, which is fuelled by e-commerce and franchising models.

A report released by PWC identified that Nigeria is projected to significantly increase Hotels and available rooms in South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya and Tanzania. This highlights the Nigerian Hotel industry’s growth trajectory and the potential business market. The catchment areas for these hotels are within the Urban areas of Lagos and Abuja, with Lagos and Abuja having one of the busiest routes in Africa, and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos is the fifth busiest in Africa, serving more than eight million travellers yearly, this goes to show the importance of development to tourism. Other states’ ability to match this urban development plan attracts tourists and capital investment.

According to the most recent research on hotel chain development pipelines from W Hospitality Group, 482 hotels—or 84,427 rooms—are presently in the pipeline across Africa. This total is first analysed in two primary regions: sub-Saharan Africa (which comprises 49 countries plus the Indian Ocean islands) and North Africa (which includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt).

Notably, the number of rooms in the pipeline has increased by 6% in sub-Saharan Africa and 4% in North Africa since 2022. Greater Cairo has the most significant pipeline among the top 10 African cities regarding scheduled rooms, making up 12% of the pipeline across the continent. Addis Ababa and Sharm El Sheikh are next in line. The notable variation in hotel average room count between Sharm El Sheikh’s 573 rooms and Lagos and Accra’s about 150 rooms is worth noting. This expansion demonstrates the hospitality industry’s rapid growth and development in Africa, offering prospects for both investors and tourists.

Countries Experiencing Significant Economic Impact from Tourism

Tourist-centric countries remain the hardest hit from global travel bans, but there are countries that have put in place infrastructure and created sites of attractions for vast nationals to visit and pay for different services that lead to increased GDP. Beaches continue to be a major draw for tourists from all over the world, as seen by the large number of nations with developed coastal infrastructure. Small island nations in particular stand out as popular travel destinations because they mostly depend on tourism to support their economies. This reliance is the result of a number of circumstances, such as their small economic size, pleasant temperatures, and unspoiled seaside offers.

It is noteworthy that six of the ten most dependent countries on tourism are island nations, indicating the critical role that coastal features play in attracting tourists. Travelers looking for dreamy escapes and engaging beach experiences are drawn to these locations because they are surrounded by turquoise waters and have sun-kissed shorelines. As a result, the tourist sector is essential to the island economies since it creates jobs and important revenue streams.

The way Forward for Nigeria: Recommendations for Improvement

Nigeria’s tourism and hospitality industries rely on strong government backing and efficient inter-agency cooperation to grow and succeed. Infrastructure, security, and communication systems are important sectors that must be emphasised to reach their full potential and improve the country’s economic position. Therefore, among many steps to take to drive the tourism and hospitality industry, immediate actions are required to;

1. Maintaining service standards and fostering a friendly environment for guests requires routine government agency inspections of tourist destinations and lodging facilities.

2. Enhancing marketing strategy for tourism destinations requires public and commercial sectors’ cooperation. This will increase Nigeria’s attractiveness to tourists, increase income, and support GDP growth and economic diversification.

3. Addressing excessive levels of insecurity to boost investment in the travel industry and give tourists confidence. This will create a secure and favourable atmosphere for the growth of the tourism industry.

4. Implementing economic policies designed to encourage and support tourism would boost the industry’s growth and promote sustained economic development, which would benefit all Nigerians.

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