What a holistic approach to tourism development means for Nigeria – Adun Okupe
With a holistic approach to tourism development, Nigeria can advance its tourism sector to account for a significant share of the country’s GDP.
According to Adun Okupe, founder and senior advisor of Redclay Advisory, Nigerian tourism is still at a point where attention is only paid to tourism.
“People spend a lot of time getting to these places, so the experience should not only make them value for money, but also improve the guest experience and encourage return visits. We need to take a holistic approach to tourism development so that we can create enough attractions to keep tourists busy for days. We need well-trained tour guides who can really tell the story of the place and give a sense of wonder. We also need amazing samples of local foods, a schedule of programs and events to keep them busy for a whole weekend or a week, ” Okupe said.
Speaking on the weekly Nairametrics Business Half Hour show, Okupe explained how some places currently only have one or two attractions, so that after a tourist has traveled for hours to get to the place, he finished his tours in less than 2 hours and is starting to wonder what next.
Tourism revolves around a whole value chain, and tourism development goes beyond building a hotel where tourists can stay when they come to sightseeing. A robust tourism sector can create an incredible experience for tourists, thus encouraging domestic tourism first, before attracting international tourists.
Okupe, who also teaches sustainability and strategy at Lagos Business School, noted that while Africa has great tourism potential, the industry has failed to focus on what and how to harness it.
A new concept – rural tourism for Africa
For Africa and Nigerians, there seems to be an attraction to international tourism with people traveling beyond their national borders to explore the world, while leaving their world behind yet to be discovered.
The focus on rural tourism will not only encourage migration from overcrowded urban cities to rural areas, but will also open up rural economies and improve living standards.
“We should start looking at how we can develop our rural economies and our rural tourism so that we also start a large part of the rural exodus. I will say that we can also work to mitigate challenges and meet them.
The average person knows there is a world and a world to explore, but it is also important that before you go you understand your own world a bit. We need to stimulate domestic tourism and create that sense of wonder in who we are and in our culture. We must start to highlight our culture more through domestic tourism ”, Adun pleaded.
She noted that countries like India had domestic tourism accounting for a larger percentage than international tourism, and African countries could do the same by exploring prime spots and historic sites across the region.
What about security challenges?
While insecurity is a challenge in many parts of Africa, it is also a challenge in other parts of the globe, but it can be met.
“I think we can start by identifying the safest towns and villages in the African region and developing them, while the government tries to address the unsafe places. South Africa, for example, has a high incidence of crime in some places, but that hasn’t stopped them from developing their tourism industry ”, Okupé explained.
She added that for specific locations, a security infrastructure could be considered to make it safer for tourism. This would require a great deal of collaboration between private sector actors to improve advocacy and base recommendations on data.
Prior to launching Redclay Advisory five years ago, Adun Okupe PhD had worked with KPMG London. Redclay Advisory works with a tight-knit team of four core members, drawing resources from a network of advisors, consultants and contractors, depending on the requirements of each project. Over the past five years, Redclay has managed projects across Nigeria, Ghana, the Republic of Benin, and the Ivory Coast.
Okupe also noted that there is a shortage of tourism professionals in the tourism sector in Africa, and therefore there is a need to train more expert tourism advisers in the areas of tourism law, tourism finance, tourism development, policy advice and data analysis.