Minister of Tourism, Edem Duke
By Chinedu Eze
Inaccessible roads, irregular electricity supply and lack of affordable, reliable water supply have hampered the growth of tourism and the hospitality industry in Nigeria.
Both locals and foreigners find it difficult to access tourism locations, a reality that has denied Nigeria foreign exchange earnings, which are the key revenue source in many countries of the world, according to the executive director, HSSL Global Limited, Ayokunnu Oloporoku.
Oloporoku told newsmen in an interview during the matriculation of students at the Wavecrest College of Catering and Hotel Management in Lagos weekend that these deficiencies also accounted to why cost of hotel services are relatively high in Nigeria.
Acknowledging the high cost of hotel services Oloporoku said, “We must not forget that it is a business first and foremost and no one goes into a business to make a loss and you will see that where government has gone into business, they often make a loss. Now, what is making it to be expensive is because of the absence of the enabling environment, and the infrastructure is not there. The average hotel is a local government to itself. It has to provide its water, electricity and other basic amenities. This makes the running of a hotel very expensive in Nigeria. There is nothing more for the business to do than to pass it to the customers. But if you go to a country where all these things have already been taken care of, you will find that all the cost will come down.”
For Nigeria to fully utilise its tourism potential, which is a multibillion Naira industry, Olowoporoku urged government to provide enabling environment for tourism to thrive, adding that government should provide social amenities, build access roads to tourism sites, provide other infrastructure and also security.
He added, “there are basic tenets to tourism in Nigeria, the first is the attraction, access and the accommodation. The government can do a lot in improving different aspect of this equation. Access is part of the infrastructure, I just came back from Ikogosi Warm Spring and it took me about five hours to get there from Lagos. Now, if the roads are motorable, Ikogosi shouldn’t be more than three hours. Look at Obudu Mountain Resort, eight out of 10 people who want to go there end up not going because of the bad road. So the Federal Government and State Government have 100 per cent responsibility in fixing the roads. Once there is access road then the private sector can look out for attraction and accommodation. So the government has to provide electricity and roads in the country.”
The Executive Director said that there is correlation between security, tourism and the hospitality industry, noting that without security people cannot feel save to travel to a country and also feel secure traveling around inside that country.
“There is direct correlation between security and hospitality. Let me give you one basic example, I am not sure you will sell a tourist attraction to Borno state at this time; no one will buy it. At the moment, as Jos is good as it is, very few tourists will want to go to Jos. You will only go to Jos because you have a family there or a business need. Tourism won’t go to places where people are being kidnapped. In a nutshell, there is correlation between tourism and security.”