MEANING OF TOURISM
Tourism is the process or act involving the visiting of people to places of interest for purposes of relaxation, entertainment and pleasure. Tourism is propelled by man’s desire to discover the free-gift of nature and man’s attempts to prevent them from extinction.
Identified Tourist Centres in Nigeria
Tourist centres are places that may possess the following characteristics:
- Distinct physical features such as outcrop of rocks or sand-beach, etc.
- Striking climate that is different from the surrounding region.
- Unique cultural activities such as festivals.
- Historical significance, as for example, the Kano city wall.
- Technological features, such as the first cable car in Nigeria.
- Natural endowment such as warm spring or game reserves.
The major tourist centres in Nigeria are:
- The Game Reserves including the Yankari game reserve, in Bauchi and Gombe states, the Borgu game reserve in Kwara state, the Benin Zoo in Edo state, Ibadan Zoo in Oyo State and the National Park, all located in different parts of Nigeria.
- The Kanji Dam site in Jebba, Kwara state.
- The Beaches of Lekki, Badagry, etc., in Lagos.
- The Zuma Rock of Suleja (Abuja) and the Olumo Rock in Ogun State.
- The Kura Waterfalls in Jos, Plateau state, the Agbokim and Kwa falls in Cross River state.
- The semi-temperate climate of Jos Plateau, Obudu Ranch Resort in Cross River state and the Mambilla plateau in Adamawa state.
- The National theatre, Lagos.
- The Museums in Lagos, Benin Ife and Jos.
- Cultural Festivals like the Arugungu fishing festival in Arugungu in Kebbi state, the ibo masquerades in Enugu state, the Ogun festival in Ogun state, the Ugep new yam festival in Cross River state, etc.
- Some important five-star Hotels, including Sheraton Hotels, Lagos and Abuja, Nicon Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Durban Hotel in Kaduna, the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos, etc
- Wiki Natural Warm Springs in Gombe state.
Some of the tourism sites are not fully developed and as a result they are not known at national and international levels.
Factors Favourable for Tourism Development
The factors that favour the development of tourism in Nigeria include:
- Presence of Beautiful Landform
The presence of beautiful highlands or striking landforms including out-crop of rocks, e.g. Zuma Rock, sand Beaches or sand bars, such as, Lagos Bar Beach, Waterfalls, such as Kura falls, etc, favour tourism development.
- Abundance of Wildlife/Biodiversity
The availability of biodiversity, including animals, plants, birds and insects found in Yankari, Borgu game reserves and the Cross River national Park has attracted visitors to the areas.
- Easy means of Transportation and Communication
Places that are served with good road networks and communication, facilitate easy movement of tourists to the area. Tourisim is said to thrive better in areas that are more accessible than to areas with poor road network and communication.
- Effective Publicity
Tourism sites and their activities need to be publicized in order to attract patronage. Such publicity should not be limited to the locality alone but extended to the national and international levels. Wide publicity promotes tourism development.
- Availability of Funds
Tourism development is capital intensive. Funds are required to build the necessary infrastructure including roads, hotels, etc. the availability of funds would enhance the provision of necessary facilities at the tourism sites and as such promote tourism development.
- Stable Political Atmosphere
Stable Political atmosphere that ensures safety of lives and property favours tourism development. In addition, the hospitable nature of the local population within the tourism sites could also attract tourists. Equally, areas which are exposed to civil strife, armed robbery, kidnapping and hostage-taking, for instance etc., will not attract many tourists.
- Availability of Standard Facilities
Places that have good social facilities including steady electricity supply portable water supply, and hotels of international standard would be attractive to tourists. The lack of social facilities and good accommodation would hinder tourism.
- Government Policy
The policy thrust of government could favour or discourage tourism development.
Importance of Tourism
- Provision of Employment Opportunities
Tourism industry provides employment opportunities to many people.
- Development of Facilities
Development of tourism has led to the provision or improvement of certain facilities like, roads airports, good hotels, etc.
Tourist centres provide some knowledge about new places one has visited. It also enables people have knowledge of where and what one did not know about before. Some tourist centres are used as research centres.
- Provision of Revenue
Tourism serves as foreign exchange earner to government. The tourists usually pay in foreign currencies to visit the centres. Tourism also provides income to individuals within the locality of the tourism centres as the tourist purchase indigenous goods and services.
- Diffusion of Ideas
It leads to the diffusion of ideas between the tourist and the local people.
- Development of Local Craft
It encourages the development of local craft industries. The tourists usually patronize local craft products which they use as souvenir.
It aids the conservation of wildlife.
- Change of People’s Attitude
The interaction between the local people and the tourists brings about positive changes in people’s ways of life. It also promotes understanding among people of diverse cultural backgrounds.
- Popularity of the Country
Countries that have important and well developed tourist centres are popular at national and international levels. The popularity of the centres increases as many people from other countries or regions visit the tourist centres.
Disadvantages of Tourism
- Tourism could lead to the breakdown of traditional values and ways of life of the local people.
- It leads to the spread of contagious disease and venereal disease.
- Tourists may hide under tourism to carry out espionage activities. This can threaten the security of a nation.
- Over-dependence of a country on tourism industry is risky.
- The benefits derived from the tourism industry are difficult to measure.
Problems of Tourism in Nigeria
- Most tourist sites are not developed. They lack social facilities such as gues houses, health care facilities, electricity and good roads.
- The publicity given to some tourists sites is very low. Some naturally endowed tourists sits are not known nationally and internationally
- Poor hospitality of the local population hinders tourism development. Regions noted for violence including kidnapping, hostage taking, terrorism and religious rosts would repel tourists.