AS the global community celebrates the World Tourism Day on Friday, Nigeria is counting its loss in tourism market due to low arrival of foreign visitors as some countries warn their citizens to see Nigeria as a “no-go-area” except for important businesses.
September 27 of every year is set aside by the United Nations (UNWTO) to promote the value of tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development, and environmental sustainability.
Current travel advisories provided by the governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, and United States of America (USA) encourage their citizens to avoid visiting Nigeria save for “essential” reasons due to issues of insecurity ranging from kidnapping, violence, and terrorism to diseases such as Zika virus.
However, while Nigeria had been identified with evidence of Zika virus transmission prior to 2015, there is no available data that shows the virus is a current threat.
These countries also advise their citizens not to set their feet on the soil of some states in the country, if they had to come at all.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK government indicated in its travel advisory updated on September 18 that the UK people should not travel to states including Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, and Gombe states.
It added that the riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River should be avoided likewise.
In addition, the UK listed that only essential travel should take its citizens to Bauchi, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi, Abia and non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers.
“There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria,” a part read. The UK said there were reports that Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) are continuing to actively plan to kidnap foreigners.
Also, it mentioned that terrorists, prominent in the Northeast, were likely to carry out attacks in Nigeria, “particularly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States”. “Further attacks are likely,” it warned.
The UK stated that protests by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) have the potential to turn violent. Meanwhile, the Nigerian government had on July 22 proscribed activities of the IMN.
On a four-scale travel advisory of the United States of America, Nigeria is placed on the third. This means that any US citizen planning on visiting Nigeria should reconsider due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and piracy. While 15 countries including Nigeria are ranked on level 3, 12 others such as Pakistan, and Iran were ranked on the fourth.
Borno state, Yobe state, and northern parts of Adamawa state were classified under “do not travel”.
Likewise, Canadians are advised by their government to avoid non-essential travelling to Nigeria due to the security situation which it described as “unpredictable.”
According to the statement, “There is a significant risk of terrorism, crime, inter-communal clashes, armed attacks and kidnappings.”
The Canadian government encourages its citizens not to travel to Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Yobe, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo Sokoto, Zamfara and Rivers States (with the exception of Rivers’ capital city, Port Harcourt, where it advises against non-essential travel).
It, however, added that travel destinations are the final decision of its citizens and its mandate is only to provide “credible and timely information” for them to make well-informed decisions regarding travelling abroad.
As these nations discourage their nationals from coming to Nigeria, tourist arrivals which contributes to the economic growth of the country are low compared to other African countries such as South Africa and Morrocco.
According to the United Nations, World Tourism Organisation’s 2019 World Tourism Highlights, the earnings Nigeria generated from tourism was lower in 2018 than in 2017. In 2017, the UN agency estimated that Nigeria earned $2.5 billion on tourism, which is 6.8 per cent of total African revenue on tourism. But in 2018, the revenue reduced to $1.9 billion.
The report made provision for the number of people visiting a country each year. However, the last available data for Nigeria was in 2016. That year, 1.89 million people visited the country.
UNWTO estimated that 1.5 million people paid a visit to Nigeria in 2010. The data shows that in six years, between 2010 and 2016, Nigeria had only increased with 334,000 tourist arrivals.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, through the foreign affairs ministry, had stated its determination to make the country a “prominent tourism destination in Africa”.
When The ICIR checks the portal of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, there is no available data showing the contribution of tourism to the country’s GDP.