‘Nigeria Yet to Harness Gains of Online Travel Booking’

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By Emma Okonji

A travel and tour expert, Mr. Kingsley Alaribe, has said the economic prosperity inherent in travel and tourism are yet to be unlocked in Nigeria, owing predominantly to the vacuum in the online travel booking space.

According to recent statistics, only a small proportion of about 13 per cent of Nigerian air travellers currently book travel products online, describing it as a damning statistics for a country boasting a population grossing over 190 million.

He listed the four components of the travel and tourism sector to include leisure travel (inbound and domestic), business travel, domestic travel and foreign travel, but stressed that the outlook remained the same, as total contribution of the sector to GDP is nearly three times greater than its direct contribution.

Aligned to this, according to him, was the poor experience of most Nigerians, many of whom have expressed their dissatisfaction with the level of service in the online travel booking space, despite the existence of a glut of players.

“For many corporate travellers, a segment that represents the overwhelming majority of online travel service consumers, the prevailing opinion is a glaring lack of real value. Same sentiment dominates among leisure travellers – many of whom are frustrated by sub-standard service and the limited choices of packages/offers available among current players –two of the most recurring pain-points that have drained confidence among customers in the sector,” Alaribe said.

According to him, “Considering the nexus between technology and value-offerings in the online travel booking space, there is a growing need for a strong player backed by cutting-edge technology to fill the vacuum in the sector and take the industry to the next level.

“Further justifying this need is the undoubted influence of a world-class online platform and innovation in service delivery which has transformed the entire value chain of an allied sector such as e-Commerce in Nigeria, as seen in the rise and dominance of strong local players such as Konga which has re-defined the scope of offerings and customer experience in the industry.”

The global travel and tourism industry is a multi-billion-dollar establishment which relies heavily on innovative technology and world-class customer experience in delivering a wide range of value offerings to all classes of travellers.

Nigeria is due for this disruption which has the potential of growing the sector’s contribution to GDP, he said.

Looking at the current statistics in Nigeria’s travel and tourism industry, he said the industry remained in a state of near-misses and failed projections occasioned by the glaring gap and huge vacuum in the online travel booking space.

According to available statistics, the direct contribution of Travel and Tourism to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was N2,29 billion, approximately 1.9 per cent of total GDP in 2017 – a figure that is expected to rise by 2.9 per cent in 2018 and 4.3 per cent per annum from 2018-2028, to N3,605.7 billion effectively representing 1.9 per cent of total GDP in 2028.

On the other hand, the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was N6,205.8 billion, representing 5.1 per cent of GDP in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 1.6 per cent in 2018 and 4.8 per cent per annum to N10,094.5 billion from 2018-2018, representing 5.4 per cent of GDP in 2028.

Alaribe, said while the figures appeared promising, it was worth considering where the Nigerian travel industry stands in the global scheme of things.

Ranked on a global list of 185 countries, Nigeria presently stands at positions 48 in total contribution and 163 in relative contribution respectively to GDP from the Travel and Tourism sector. In terms of expected real growth in the sector, Nigeria stands at a poorly 168 position and 59 in long-term growth forecast (2018-2028) in the sector.
Compared with global indices, Travel and Tourism represents 10.4 per cent of global GDP while one-tenth of jobs worldwide are supported by the industry, representing 9.9 per cent of global employment.

He said “It is an open secret that travel and tourism is an important global economic activity, with the potential to contribute significantly to a nation’s GDP.”