AS Nigerian tourism suffers pernicious decline resulting from insurgency and neglect on the part of government, stakeholders have insisted that the sector can be overturned into a more viable source of generating revenue for the nation. Brainstorming at the 2015 edition of the Nigeria Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference, NHTIC, they tasked both government and private sector to make the tourism and hospitality sector count in the Nigerian economy.
The stakeholders also advocated a liberal visa policy devoid of stringent and difficult processes which will promote tourism, trade and investment in the country. Some of the foreign participants observed that the process of procuring Nigerian visa was too stringent and stressful.
Presenting papers at the conference, which was held in Lagos early in the week, the speakers noted that now is the right time to show more commitment and action at diversifying the Nigerian economy and using tourism as a sure alternative to oil, especially now that the global oil price is falling.
The three-day conference went beyond paper presentation to offering veritable platforms for networking, interaction and exchanges among participants who were eager to learn new, discover new trends and also implement resolutions arrived at the conference for the growth of their businesses.
From the first paper entitled: Macro-Economic Overview, Sam Ohuabunwa, founder, SOFEE, thoroughly explore the country’s economic outlook, giving insight to would-be investors on how to go about their investments across the country and also meeting their expected investment objectives. Placing the country against the rest of the world, Ohuabunwa noted that despite the challenges of doing business in the country, Nigeria is still an investment heaven because of the high return on investment.
However, the picture became clearer when Trevor Ward, managing director, W Hospitality Group, exposed the growth and investment potential of the Nigerian hotel and tourism market. Ward gave detailed study on the hospitality hot spots, supply gaps and key segments with potential growth which would-be investors should look out for among others.
Moreover, Ward’s figure-based presentation was more convincing and enlightening as questions that followed later reflected the gray areas that bother most investors.
Also Laura Alakija, Managing Associate, Sterling Partnership, assured the participants and would-be investors the safety of the investment with her presentation on the Regulatory Framework in Nigeria: How can this be made easier for investors.
From the government perspective, Cross River State Carnival Commission led by Gab Onah, the chairman, unveiled the efforts at making the state the foremost tourism destination in West Africa. Onah noted that over time, the state has grown its craft, skills and even passion that have sustained the carnival, and other related businesses. Also speaking, JustinaOvat, principal consultant, Calabar Hospitality House Limited, noted that the increasing traffic to the state, especially during festive season, offers limitless opportunities for more investments hotels, resorts, tours and related businesses.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Brian Efa, managing partner, Jonel Hospitality Consulting, organisers of the conference, noted that the theme this year; ‘Nigeria’s Tourism Industry-Catalyst for Economy Diversification’, was purposely meant to highlight the challenges of operating in Nigeria, opportunities and prospects of the industry and plans to in place to secure increased investment in the sector in the next three-five years.
Efa commended the quality of the speakers and their insightful presentations, the participants that made the conference well-attended, and promised a more impacting edition in 2016.