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Tourism In A Hyperconnected World: The Challenges And Opportunities For Nigerian Tourism Industry – Alonge

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Tourism In A Hyperconnected World: The Challenges And Opportunities For Nigerian Tourism Industry

BusinessEcho Magazine Report

The Guest Speaker of the ceremony, Victor Adekunle Alonge delivered the paper at the Investiture ceremony of the Vice President of the South West for Institute of Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN), Otunba Ayodele Micheal Olumoko on Thursday 7th April 2022 at the Banquet Hall, Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Victor Adekunle Alonge spoke on the following:-

Introduction: The contemporary world is shaped by the rising interdependence among national economies, reflecting the migration towards global markets and global production through trans-national and cross-border trade and investments. As the world becomes more globalized, there is the evolving connectedness of the world. This is reflected in the expanded flows of information, technology, capital, goods, services and people (significantly through tourism). Although globalization is considered as the process where national and international economies, societies and cultures integrate through global network of trade, communication and transportation (International Monetary Fund, 2000), it no doubt has profound impact on the incorporation of a single world order through the intensification of global social relations. Globalization has indeed made the world to become a global village with profound effect on movement of people for various activities, including tourism.

Tourism In A Hyperconnected World: The Challenges And Opportunities For Nigerian Tourism Industry
Guest Speaker, Victor Adekunle Alonge, BSc. Hons. MSc. FNIVS FRICS RSV ACIArb F.IoD, 2nd Vice President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), and Senior Partner, Nelson Thorpe Alonge

As the world continues to integrate more than ever before, people and organizations are connecting more and in different ways than they ever have in the past. This interconnectedness promotes international trade agreements, global business activity, and telecommunication networks among others. The activities often require travel and visitation, making globalization a precursor of tourism. Besides, tourism has emerged as an essential component of societal life, most especially in the developed world as it is increasingly relied upon to meet the recreational and leisure needs of people. Tourism, is a strong pillar of sustainable

development for both developed and emerging economies. Little wonder that tourism is a vital component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – Goal 8, reflecting its relevance in global reckoning.

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) of the United Nations in 2017 reported that tourism facilitated 1.24 billion international arrivals generating US$7.2 trillion in revenue in 2016.   Travel and tourism play a vital role in the creation of jobs, both direct, indirect and aggregated impacts. WTO estimated that Tourism accounted for about 10.6% of all jobs, accounting for US$ 9.2 trillion, representing approximately 10.4% of global GDP in 2019. International visitor spending amounted to 6.8% of total exports and 27.4% of global services exports, contributing US$ 1.7 trillion in 2019. As a significant contributor to economic growth, the tourism industry transcends attractive destination and plays a critical role in boosting the vitality of the economy of any country. Tourism development is now increasingly being used as an important tool in promoting economic growth, poverty alleviation, and in food security.

The pace of technological change affecting the world today is unprecedented, with exponential and tremendous advances in computer applications. In particular, the rise in the discovery and application of digital innovative technologies have revolutionize the human environment and brought with it new vistas of opportunities. These technological advances have catalyzed development in every

single facet of people’s daily life. Digital technologies such as internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), etc. continue to disrupt the traditional ways of doing things by providing new, faster, and effective ways of undertaking activities in all spheres of human endeavor.

The world has thus become hyperconnected, with the proliferation of networks of people, devices, and other entities, enabling the continuous access to other people, machines, and organizations, regardless of time or location. Information is now easily accessible and abundant, search costs are low, goods and services from across geographic boundaries are easier to reach than ever, and companies offering services may no longer be the primary source of information.

The impact of hyperconnectivity resonates in various sectors of the global economy, and most especially in the tourism industry, being an information dependent industry, where large volumes of information are generated and processed. For instance, in embarking on a trip, scores of data and information are often generated and exchanged – itineraries, schedules, payment information, destination, products and passenger information. These activities are often undertaken by the tourism professionals. The impact of digital technologies on this process has been radical and profound, impacting every process, from the search of the destination, customer service, flight booking, accommodation, the experience during the trip and its completion.

It is against this backdrop that this paper intends to examine the practice of tourism in a hyperconnected world.

Understanding Tourism: The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defined Tourism as a stay of at least one night, but less than a year, away from one’s ‘normal environment’, to include business, conference, and other types of non-leisure travel. The International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism (IASET) considers tourism as the sum of the phenomenon and relationship arising from the travel and stay of non-residents, in as much as they do not result in permanent residence.

Tourism thus entails any activity that voluntarily or temporarily takes a person from his usual place of residence, in order to satisfy a need of pleasure, excitement, experience and relaxation. In today’s rapidly changing world, tourism is no longer leisure but an activity that has captured the attention of economists as a major source of foreign exchange for developing and developed countries. This has continue to compel several countries to develop both tourist sites, standardize operations and improve infrastructures such as electricity, airports, rail, roads, seaport, etc. that support tourism.

Since the dawn of the 21st century, the twin forces of globalization and ICT revolution have changed the face of tourism globally. Tourism is no longer a luxury concept, but a living style universally, with the potential to attract trade and generate capital flows into destinations.

Types of Tourism: Some of the principal categories of tourism include the following:

Leisure Tourism: This includes holiday involving relaxation, sleep, reading, walk on the beach, taking a scenic drive or sporting activities, shopping etc.

Business Tourism: Involves travel for the purpose of business. It includes trading for goods to be resold on a wholesale basis; conduct of business transactions e.g. visiting a client, contract negotiations; and attendance of conferences, exhibition or event associated with participant’s business.

Religious Tourism: This is associated with religious and faith activities. Examples include the holy pilgrimages to the Holy Land of Mecca and Medinah in Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem in Israel as well as the annual visitations by the adherents of Hinduism and Buddhism to Temples in India.

Ecological Tourism: The rich diversity in the flora and fauna with a blessing of the beautiful natural attractions has evolved as a form of tourism. The forests cover, wildlife sanctuaries, the mountain ranges, the beautiful beaches and coastline are examples of this and a feast for all lovers of nature.

Sports Tourism: This refers to international travel either for viewing or participating in a sporting event. International sporting events like the Olympics, FIFA World Cup (soccer), UEFA Champions League, CAF Nations Cup, tennis, golf and Formula 1 Grand Prix are included in this category.

Medical Tourism: A form of tourism where countries with significant expertise in medical knowledge are visited for the treatment of diseases and to enjoy cutting-edge medical facilities. India is one of such countries and about US$10 billion was attracted to the country through medical tourism between 2016 and 2021.

Wildlife Tourism: This involves observation of wild (non-domestic) animals in their natural environment or in captivity. It incorporates activities such as photography, viewing and feeding of animals. This form of tourism offer tourists customized tour packages and safaris and is closely associated with eco-tourism and sustainable-tourism. The East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania rely heavily on wildlife tourism for the generation of significant revenue.

Tourism in a Globalized World: Travel and tourism are important economic activities in most countries of the world. Tourism is one of the leading sources of revenue generation for both developed and developing countries. The tourism industry generated US$ 9.2 trillion or 10.4% of global GDP in 2019 (UNWTO, 2019). Thus, tourism has become a strong pillar for sustainable development for both developed and emerging economies. It impacts on revenue growth, job opportunities, gross income, and production. The impacts of tourism are mostly felt in industries such as hotels, restaurants, transportation, entertainment, and shopping.  The travel and tourism industry is believed to be the world’s largest and most diverse industry.

Unlike oil that is non-renewable, and which at best employs less than 2% of the population, tourism is an inclusive, sustainable, labour-intensive industry, engaging both skilled and unskilled labour. Environmentally, tourism, when properly developed and managed, can serve as a mechanism for protecting the ecosystem: the natural environments, preserving historical, archaeological and religious monuments and stimulating the practice of local cultures, folklore, traditions, arts and crafts, and food as well as the cultural heritage of the people.

The Nigerian Tourism Industry: In recent times, tourism development has been on the front burner of national discourse in Nigeria. This stems from the realization of its potential in job creation and generation of the badly needed revenue, most especially in foreign earnings.

As with most African countries that experienced European colonization, Nigerian tourism industry has a chequered history. Prior to British colonialism, there were various objects of interests which often attract visitors to many cities and villages in the country. Available evidence suggests that apart from attractions and visitations to traditional and cultural festivals across the length and breadth of the country, tourists were also attracted by the various natural and man-made objects in these communities. As such, archaeological objects of historical significance were usually on display, thereby serving as centre of attraction to tourist.

The advent of colonialism and the involvement of Europeans in the country brought about archaeological expeditions and excavations, leading to the exhumation and transfer of objects of historical significance to cultures and civilizations in several cities across the country. It is on record that several objects made in Benin-City and Ife were ferried by the British and now in display at the British Museum in London.

Serious attempts to develop tourism to harness its opportunities in the economic development of the country dates back to Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Organized tourism in Nigeria is, however, traceable to 1962 with the establishment of Nigeria Tourist Association by a group of tourism practitioners in the country, while formal recognition of Tourism by government as a potential economic activity was not until 1976 with the establishment of Nigeria Tourism Board (NTB).

The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) was later established by Decree No. 81 of 1992 to replace NTB and provide policy and institutional frameworks for the regulation and supervision of the tourism sector in the country. To strengthen and revitalize the tourism industry, the government in conjunction with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2006 produced a National Tourism Development Master Plan. The master plan focused on the institutional and capacity strengthening support to the tourism sector. Since then tourism activities has continue to gather momentum in Nigeria. Besides, the establishment of the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN) has further galvanized tourism awareness and practice in the country. The ITPN is a higher, vocational and tertiary level professional organization, established to provide the tourism industry with professionals that are equipped with the necessary skills-set, knowledge and expertise required to offer quality service to clients. Available evidence points to the fact that since its establishment, the ITPN has made giant strides in promoting tourism practice in Nigeria.

Contributions of Tourism to Nigeria’s Economic Development: The tourism industry in Nigeria contributes immensely to national economic growth and development. As a non-oil and non-agricultural activity, tourism plays a substantial role in expanding and diversifying Nigeria’s economy, and providing income-earning opportunities for a large number of people. Through its contribution to GDP, export earnings, and government tax revenues, the tourism industry positively impacts the macro-economic indicators of the country.

Available data obtained from Tourism Economics (2021) revealed that total overnight visitation to Nigeria grew by 80% from 2010 to 2019. International overnight stays rose more than 90% across the decade, while domestic visits increased 80%. In 2019, domestic and international visitor spending directly contributed US$2.6 billion to Nigerian GDP and supported a US$7.9 billion total impact including indirect and induced impacts. The Nigerian travel and tourism industry contributes 4% of total GDP in 2019, and the economic activity supported nearly 3.3 million jobs (Tourism Economics, 2021).

But in recent times the global tourism industry has suffered more than any other sector due to COVID-19 and the attendant lockdowns, resulting in global economic recession. The Nigerian tourism sector was not insulated from this challenge as total visitor spend impact was estimated to have declined by nearly US$3 billion in 2020, representing nearly one-third reduction from 2019 levels (Tourism Economics, 2021). The reduction in visitor spending in 2020 jeopardized nearly 1 million jobs within the travel and tourism sector and related industries (WTTC, 2021). The growing insecurity across the country has also worsened this problem as it de-markets the country, thereby discouraging international travels.

Hyperconnectivity and Hyper-Connected World: Hyperconnectivity is the driver of the hyper-connected world. As advances in digital technology progresses, a hyper-connected society is emerging in which various connections with people and people, things and people, things and things are amplified. Hyperconnectivity refers to a state of unified communications in which the traffic handling capacity of a network exceeded its demand and all devices connected to a network are inter-connected. It is a set of social expectations and behavioural norms in which being available for communication anytime and anywhere is essential to social relationships.

The use of internet enabled smart devices; most especially smartphones is the key driver of the hyper-connected world. Nigeria is currently gravitating towards a hyper-connected society. As the country with the largest economy and highest population in Africa, Nigeria’s propensity for growth is predicated on its large young population and investment in technology, notably smartphone technology. Based on statistics released by DataReportal (2022), there were 109.2 million internet users in Nigeria as at January 2022 while the internet penetration is estimated at 51.0 percent of the total population at the beginning of 2022. This trend is largely anchored on the use of internet enabled mobile devices. The number of smartphone users in the country currently stands at between 25 and 40 million, with a projection to 80 million by 2026. Being a disruptive technology that displaces the traditional way of doing things, most especially face to face interactions, the effect of a hyperconnected society is currently being felt across all sectors of human endeavors and is revolutionizing our world with serious consequences for our ways of doing things.

Hyperconnectivity and the Tourism Industry: We are in an era of unprecedented global integration enabled by the twin forces of globalization and (rapidly increasing advances in) technology. Technology and innovations have revolutionized and percolated all the sectors and are consistently shaping our perception of the world, how we communicate, and share information. These trends have redefined the tourism sector and how it functions. At the heart of our now hyper-connected, hyper-informed world is a digital-led revolution in markets, as well as in the demand for skills and the characteristics of tourism jobs. Recent years have seen the emergence of digital breakthroughs, including new platform tourism services (the so-called sharing or collaborative economy), big data and geo-localization. In many ways, hyperconnectivity has made today’s traveller believe in the possibility of a borderless world.

In the tourism industry, hyperconnectivity will continue to usher in greater opportunities for customization and personalization of the service experience. It also has the potential for the restructuring of operational processes for greater efficiency and speed. For owners, operators and customers, it will alter expectations for costs of goods and services, the speed and agility at which services are expected to be delivered, the value added from the service encounter, the innovative nature of the services and the overall customer services provided. Besides, tourism in a hyperconnected world will be associated with enhanced customer experience through gained customer insight, improved asset and facility management, innovative product offerings, enhanced safety and security, all of which will increase revenue and decrease costs through streamlined processes and more accurate, timely data.

Concluding Remarks: I have discussed the contributions of the tourism industry to global and the Nigerian economies and analyzed its role in national economic growth and development. I equally situated the potential for disruptive digital technologies and internet enabled devices, particularly in influencing travellers’ behaviour and its effect on the tourism industry. Since technology now dictates the success or failure of many activities of human endeavors, its potential in influencing the tourism industry and the livelihoods of tourism practitioners is hugely significant. I also attempted an examination of tourism in a hyper-connected world. Tourism practitioners clearly need to keep abreast of changes in technology in the delivery of their professional services to remain competitive and relevant. It is imperative for the service processes to be integrated with technology as the world continues to be more hyperconnected. This would enable operational efficiency and create a competitive advantage for success.

In Nigeria, there is the need for the tourism industry and its practitioners to champion the review and updating of outdated legislations and regulation that support employment, innovation, entrepreneurship and new business models. More so, it is vital to create awareness and adoption of new technologies and technological trends, as there is evidently low adoption of these within the sector currently. More than ever before, there is the urgent need to improve investment in these technologies. Tourism practitioners should be encouraged to commit funds for the procurement of digital technologies for capacity building through trainings. The ITPN is no doubt well positioned to take a lead in this regard. The Institute has a huge responsibility in promoting the awareness and actual practice of a modern tourism profession that delivers the benefits of hyperconnectivity in a hyper-connected world to tourists in Nigeria. I Thank you for listening to me.

Bibliography:

Abdulrahman, N., Muhammad , S., and  Muhammad, Y. H. (2014). The possible impact of Tourism industry on Nigeria economy, Review of Public Administration and Management, 3(5), 1-9.

Aremu, A. B. and Lawal, L. O. (2018). Tourism development and sustainable economic development: evidence from South Western Nigeria, South Asian Journal of Social Studies and Economics, 2(1), 1-9.

Bankole, A. S and Odularu, G. O. (2006). Achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs): issues and options for the Nigeria’s tourism industry, PASOS, 4(3), 429-436.

Data Reportal (2022).  Digital Nigeria, https//www.datareportal.com/reports/digital-2022-nigeria

Dwyer, L. (2015). Globalisation of tourism: drivers and outcomes, Tourism Recreation Research, 40(3), 326-339.

Tourism Economics (2021). Driving the tourism recovery in Nigeria, Data and Digital Platforms, Lagos.

Voase, R. (2018). Holidays under the hegemony of hyper-connectivity: getting away, but unable to escape? Leisure Studies, 37(4), 384-395.

World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC 2021). WTTC/Oxford Economics 2021 Travel & Tourism Economic Impact Research Methodology, Oxford, 42pp.

Tourism

Migration In Africa: IOM Team Lead Hails NiDCOM For Capacity Building

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IOM Team Lead Hails NiDCOM For Capacity Building

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Ms. Daphné Bouteillet-Paquet, the IOM Belgium, Project Lead for The Migration of African Talents through Capacity building and Hiring (MATCH) has commended the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NIDCOM), for the supportive, positive, and corrective feedback to help evaluate the outcome of the Project.

Bouteillet-Paquet, who led a delegation of IOM Belgium staff, stated this during a review meeting with the Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. (Dr) Abike Dabiri-Erewa in Abuja.

She stated that the MATCH project is a 36- month initiative which kicked off on the 31st of January, 2020, and is funded by the European Union (EU) aimed at providing highly skilled talents to private sector companies whose needs for qualified staff cannot be satisfied by the offer available on the EU labour market.

IOM Team Lead Hails NiDCOM For Capacity Building
IOM Team Lead Hails NiDCOM For Capacity Building

The Project Lead added that this has enabled young graduates from Nigeria and Senegal to work for companies in four EU member states.

She noted that as applicants register on MATCH, companies from Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg will be supported with the sourcing and recruiting of African talents from Senegal and Nigeria.

The scheme, according to her,  is aimed at upscaling young migrants’ skills and increasing their employability, while addressing EU labour market shortages and contributing, in the longer term, to the development of Nigeria and Senegal.

Bouteillet-Paquet stressed that the project has implemented complementary activities such as skills development, capacity building, and knowledge sharing between the participating EU and African countries.

The IOM Belgium Project lead expressed the importance to have proper evaluation and feedback to help in the next project, as the first project will be ending in December 2022.

Receiving the delegation, (Dr) Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NiDCOM), says pre-departure seminars and capacity-building training should be held for applicants of the MATCH project.

Represented by the Secretary to the Commission, Engr. Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi, stated this during the review meeting.

Bassi equally stressed that the recruiting of Nigerian talents should not be a one-way street, but must be beneficial to the country of origin and a bilateral labour agreement should be created.

He, however, suggested that a Memorandum of Understanding be drafted for the approval of the parties concerned.

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Dabiri-Erewa Applauds Diasporas Contributions To Nigerian Economy As Diaspora Remittances Increases

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Dabiri-Erewa applauds diasporas contributions to the Nigerian economy as diaspora remittances increases

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has commended Nigerians in the Diaspora on the rise of remittances in the first quarter of the year, by 20.3 per cent, representing the seventh consecutive quarterly increase in diaspora remittances since last quarter in 2020.

In a statement by the Commission’s Head of Media and Public Relations, Abdur-Rahman Balogun,  Dabiri-Erewa said that increase in remittances by Nigerians abroad which has played a significant role in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has a great impact on the socio-economic growth of the country

She said, “As the world recovers from the global pandemic and confronts instability of many kinds, we want to honor the efforts of all those who continue to support their loved ones despite the challenging circumstances.”

According to the NIDCOM boss, the recent figures released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed an increase in remittances in quarter one of 2022 to $5.16 billion from $ 4.29 billion same period in 2021.

Also, the ‘Naira 4 Dollar Scheme’ created by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2021, attracted $2.4 billion in diaspora remittances within eight months, surpassing the figure reported in 2021.

She said NiDCOM will continue to push for more engagement with our diaspora who are an indisputable economic factor and are becoming an investment factor in the country, noting that many Nigerians abroad are investing in agriculture, real estate, health, education, and ICT, amongst others.

Dabiri-Erewa implored all stakeholders to continue engagement for Diaspora Voting with the National Assembly to amend relevant sections of the law to enable INEC to do the needful.

She assured Nigerians abroad that details of the Nigerians Diaspora Investment Trust Fund (NDITF) will soon be unveiled as a platform for structured diaspora investments, just as Diaspora mortgage and housing facilities are some of the programs being introduced by NIDCOM for the welfare of the citizens abroad.

Similarly, 33 states now have State Diaspora Focal Point Officers with Abia setting up Abia Diaspora Agency, while Edo and Enugu are almost set with their own agencies just as Ondo and Anambra states have Commissioners.

She also described the Diasporans as a valuable asset worth more than the billions of naira they sent home as remittances as they are contributing immensely to national development through training and capacity development.

Stressing that no nation can develop without its diaspora, she emphasized the need for Nigerians at home and in the diaspora to work together.

It is expected that by the end of the 2022 financial year, the remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora from official sources would have increased from its current $22 billion to about $25 billion.

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IOM Sharpens Technical Skills Of NiDCOM’s Pioneer Staff

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IOM Sharpens Technical Skills Of NiDCOM's Pioneer Staff

IOM Sharpens Technical Skills of NiDCOM’s Pioneer Staff

Olushola Okunlade Writes

A three-day capacity building workshop on Monitoring and Evaluation is underway in Abuja.

The training organized by the International Organisation for Migration, (IOM) is to build the skills set and competencies of the Staff of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission.

Declaring the workshop open on behalf of Hon. (Dr) Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Engr Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi, Secretary to the Commission, said Monitoring and Evaluation is a critical component of NIDCOM’s Programmes, Policies, and activities, adding that participants should take advantage of the opportunity to improve their skills in order to fast track the growth and progress of the Commission and thereby fulfill its mandate for national development.

Dr. Bassi also commended the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, for supporting and facilitating the training as part of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Trusted Sources Project.

IOM Sharpens Technical Skills Of NiDCOM's Pioneer Staff

Ms. Elizabeth Poage, speaking on behalf of the Acting Chief of Mission, IOM,  applauded NiDCOM’s Management and Staff for their participation in the Monitoring and Evaluation training Workshop.

Ms. Poage went on to say those good migration policies are excellent development parameters for ensuring the full, effective, and efficient implementation of the National Diaspora Policy.

The training is aimed at educating and enlightening NIDCOM’S Staff on the need for a proper monitoring and evaluation process for better output in their various Departments and Units.

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