ATTWON Debuts with Tourism Statistics Debate


Before now, tourism in Nigeria had experienced a dearth of information on the increasing role of tourism in the national economy. Reliable data has therefore become necessary because of the importance and magnitude of tourism, using the same concepts, definitions and measurement approaches as other industries. ATTWON, a collective of Travel and Tourism writers, bloggers, photojournalists and PR Executives seeks to do this by advancing tourism contribution to the economy . Omolola Itayemi reports

On the 2nd floor of a brown 3-story building in Alagomeji area of Yaba, Lagos resides the Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ATTWON) office and venue of the recent ‘Travel and Stats’, a discussion involving industry stakeholders and CEO, Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale.

 Such discussions, however, rare in the industry are pivots of growing the industry and ensuring tourism becomes the new oil. The debate sheds light on issues such as the recent commitment of the NBS to the use of the Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA) framework for the aggregation of tourism stats for national GDP.

Interestingly, NBS had chosen to apply the TSA framework from 2015 even though it has yet to be fully implemented. The TSA itself was recommended by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). It links all tourism and travel statistics in Nigeria with the national accounts framework before national GDP is calculated.

The Statistician-General, speaking through his representative, Mrs Lola Talabi-Oni, said: “Until recently, tourism data had been disaggregated and oftentimes fragmented. We have begun to build the structure to compile the Tourism Satellite Accounts. The NBS, according to him, had already established collaboration with such stakeholders as the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to build a system of tourism statistics that feeds into the TSA.”

He added that a broader platform would soon be established to function as a forum where other stakeholders can also put forward their contributions towards the development of a robust TSA.

The TSA developed by UNWTO in 2008, adopts the basic system of concepts, classifications, definitions, tables and aggregates of the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA 2008), the international standard for a systematic summary of national economic activity, from a functional perspective.

It allows for the harmonization and reconciliation of tourism statistics from an economic (National Accounts) perspective. This enables the generation of tourism economic data (such as Tourism Direct GDP) that is comparable with other economic statistics. Exactly how the TSA does this relates to the SNA logic of contrasting data from the demand-side (the acquisition of goods and services by visitors while on a tourism trip) with data from the supply-side of the economy (the value of goods and services produced by industries in response to visitor expenditure).

Seen as a set of 10 summary tables, each with their underlying data, the TSA includes inbound, domestic tourism and outbound tourism expenditure; internal tourism expenditure; production accounts of tourism industries; the Gross Value Added (GVA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) attributable to tourism; employment; investment; government consumption; and non-monetary indicators.

A satellite account is a term developed by the UN to measure the size of economic sectors that are not clearly defined as industries in the national accounts. In this case, the TSA considers tourism as an amalgam of industries such as transportation, accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment and travel agencies.

The implication of using a TSA is that it provides credible data on the impact of tourism and associated employment. It now becomes a veritable tool for developing sound economic policies related to tourism development. It also provides data on tourism impact on the balance of payments and provides information of human resource characteristics.

Before now, tourism in Nigeria had experienced a dearth of information on the increasing role of tourism in the national economy. It has, therefore, become necessary for there to be reliable data relative to the importance a§nd magnitude of tourism using the same concepts, definitions and measurement approaches as other industries.

The development of the TSA framework has been fuelled by recognition of the fact that its implementation will serve to increase and improve knowledge of tourism importance relative to overall economic activity in Nigeria. It provides an instrument for designing more efficient economic policies relating to tourism and job creation. It will also create awareness among stakeholders directly or indirectly involved with tourism of the economic importance of this activity and by extension its role in all the industries involved in the production of goods and services. The interactive session also marked the opening of the ATTWON Creative Hub in Lagos.

DG NTDC, Folorunsho Coker speaking through his representative, Mrs. Annette Ibe, said: “There are other data banks from technologies used by banks, telecoms companies and airlines, among others, that could be used to crystallize our overview of tourism data. It will be by alliance and in our common interest, rather than by enforcement. This will get us where we want to be. Big data is the new oracle. We need to speak to it to maximize benefits.”

While describing statistics as the overview that allows correction of strategies and policies, the NTDC boss commended the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for its commitment to using the TSA framework to ensure a more robust and realistic aggregation of tourism statistics in Nigeria.

He noted that the symbiotic relationship between government agencies is for the benefit of Nigeria, while opining that, “this is the first time statistic will capture Tourism and its relevance to GDP. “The decision of NBS to use the TSA framework to ensure a more robust and realistic aggregation of tourism statistics in Nigeria is ground breaking. It is the beginning of what GSM did to analogue for tourism. The DG at NBS is a timely judge of the National data requirements and is on the crest of pronouncements that reinforce our statements that the transportation, hospitality and entertainment in tourism have been big business and need to be identified and separated.”

Emphasising the importance of appreciating the NBS approach to tourism data to be able to have robust conversations on the figures, Kale said that the contribution of tourism to GDP using the Supply and Use Table of Nigeria is a measurement of Tourism Value Added. Though limited in scope being dated 2010 to 2012, the Supply and Use Table is still a useful way to evaluate the growth and trends of the tourism sector.

The contribution of tourism to GDP declined from 2.34% in 2010 to 1.77% in 2011 to 1.22% in 2012. Although transportation constitutes the highest contribution of Tourism to GDP, it declined from 70% in 2010 to just over 50% in 2012. On the converse, hotels and accommodation which contributed 20% to the tourism economy in 2010 grew to 45% in 2012.

He noted that though there were over 1000 hotels in Nigeria, very few were predominantly used by inbound tourists.

He revealed the NBS was “in the process of designing a template, in collaboration with other supervisory agencies and associations to further capture the composition and main growth drivers within this sub-sector.”

The rise of shared private accommodation for tourism purposes posed a challenge in monitoring necessitating “the possibility of incorporating this type of service within the Household Establishment Surveys that are conducted every quarter,” he said.

Explaining further, Kale said that soon, it would be possible to collect and disseminate indicators on occupancy rates, room capacity, bed capacity, total foreign guest nights and average room rates across the country.

A participant at the forum, the CEO, Nene-Uwa Hub Ltd. Mrs. Nnena Fakoya-Smith revealed that her company had teamed up with Le Spinalist to conduct a basic research on how Nigerian’s perceive what Sustainable Tourism means and whether they are even aware of the emergence of the term.

Based on the findings, it was concluded that the gospel of Sustainable Tourism needs to be spread till everyone in the Nigerian Tourism industry is fully aware of the benefits of the concept which will help develop the Nigerian economy, environment and promote the cultural values of the host tourism communities.

Her research, she noted, underscored the need to use statistics to explain findings in the Travel and Tourism industry as well as being essential for record purposes and references.

It is apparent from the stakeholders present that there was some concerted effort by each group to derive some working data.

Federation of Tourism Associations in Nigeria (FTAN), Vice President South East, Mrs. Ngozi Ngoka spoke of the process through which FTAN South East had been able to gather tourism statistics – from taking head counts at bus parks to the number of guests lodged at hotels in the regions.“If we really practice tourism, we can stop urban migration and provide jobs which translate into economic growth. We at FTAN have all the anciliary businesses that support tourism,” she said.

Otunba Ayo Olumoko, Vice President South West and CEO, Infogem, in his opinion, said that the Federal Government showed adequate knowledge of what the tourism industry was adding to GDP. As a result, “the industry is submerged under so many industries. Tourism as an industry has not been taken seriously by the government. From the papers presented, NBS is giving different statistics from one aspect of the industry instead of collectively.”

One of the key stakeholders in the collection of data in the tourism industry, the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), through Vice-President South West, Mrs. Lola Adewole, said NANTA was already providing data to the collecting agencies and pledged the association’s continued support for collaboration on the TSA.