Nigeria is among the emerging market countries that have been unable to exploit their tourism potential, says an analysis by Renaissance Capital.
The report published on Financial Times by the investment bank puts Nigeria in the same league as Brazil, Russia, and India.
According to data obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Nigeria’s tourism revenue in 2015 was equivalent to just 0.1 per cent of its gross domestic product for the year.
Comparable data obtained from 43 African countries suggest that Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo benefit the least from tourism, with the latter country placed bottom in the continent.
“The climate in Nigeria is not that different from that in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia or Thailand. Lagos has a long beach sitting alongside it, just like Rio [de Janeiro]. Ghana doesn’t have anything more to offer to tourists than Nigeria,” says Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance.
He noted that Nigeria has the potential to generate $8bn a year from tourism, rather than $500m, if it can reach the standards of Ghana.
David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), was quoted to have said cumbersome visa requirements are a “key issue hampering freedom to travel and creating an obstacle to the economic and social benefits travel and tourism can bring to countries”.
Scowsill added that Nigeria is “struggling with the effects and perceptions as a result of the violence and terrorism it has been suffering and, to a lower degree, from the lingering effects of the recent Ebola outbreak in the region”.
Furthermore, Robertson said the humiliating visa processes suffered by citizens of tourism-neglected countries make them feel the need to reciprocate the gesture by having diffcult visa requirements for visiting tourists.
“Friends have described the humiliation of applying for visas in western embassies, such as where a British official peers at you as if assuming you’ll overstay your visit and end up in the informal economy.
“Russian, Indian and Nigeria officials have often stated that if the west makes it hard for their citizens to visit the west, then western visitors should expect the same treatment in return”, Robertson said.
The report also stated that data from WTTC suggest that Nigeria’s travel and tourism revenues will rise 4.2 per cent this year.
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