MID-March is the spring break period for most schools in the United States from elementary schools to universities—a week break from school. Many teachers and college students use the opportunity to travel to other cities and countries. So far the top destination spots for college students during the spring break are Cancun, Mexico, Nassau, Bermuda, Panama City Beach, Florida, Freeport, Bahamas, South Padre Island, Texas, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. But the much talked about destination has always been Cancun, Mexico.
Oftentimes I wonder why American college students spend millions of dollars each spring in countries like Mexico and other tourist countries, as well as some beach cities in the United States, and not in any African country. In any discussion about the spring break destination plans, African countries are never in the mix. Who would blame these young adults, who are experiencing new vistas of life in areas they seem to be familiar with? They are constantly being courted by several spots for their business in the form of advertising. Many countries and cities invest massively on the media advertising to attract college students to their towns during the spring break. Thus, these students only talk about Mexico, and some of the Islands for possible destination places for the spring break.
Many people will conclude that it will be an understatement to say that the spring break is a yearly economic boon to numerous countries and cities where these college students flock to for a one-week period. But not only that the spring break in these hosting cities will add to their social values, it will also give the cities the bragging rights in the global economy as a few spots that could attract foreign visitors. No wonder why many countries make concerted efforts to attract American tourists, particularly the spring break tourists, who spend enormous amount of money during one week period. With good experience, these students will continue to visit and recommend these familiar spots to their peers and friends.
So, as this year’s spring break was approaching, my mind was on Nigeria for entirely a different reason. But when I arrived in Abuja, where friends were able to take me around the city, I became amazed at the architectural beauty wrapped around the astonishing landmarks and serene scenery. The cascading beauty is apt for American college students on spring break. I was struck on how Abuja could be packaged to attract foreign tourists, especially American students during the March spring break.
On a further research, I realized that the country has good tourist spots that could attract tourists if properly packaged and advertised in the foreign media. The Ibeano Beach, Akwa Ibom State; Obudu Mountain Resort, Cross Rivers; Ngwo Pine Forest, Ngwo, Enugu State; Awhum Waterfall, Enugu State; Arochukwu Long Juju Slave Route, Abia State; The Giant Footprint of Ukhuse Oke, Owan, Edo State; Gashaki-Gumpti National Park, Taraba State; Alok Ikom Monoliths, Cross River State; Sukur Cultural Landscape Madageli, Adamawa State; and Kainji National Park, Niger State were among the sites could be a boon to tourism in Nigeria.
The tourism industry in Nigeria is yet to be fully developed to take advantage of foreign tourists who yearn for new tourists cities. The untapped sector is a goldmine for policymakers who should come up with ways to redesign and revitalize tourist industry Nigeria. In addition, they should find a niche to uniquely package and market tourism in Nigeria to the western world.
Undoubtedly, the prospect of booming tourism in Nigeria will positively affect the country’s economy. Tourism will be a great source of foreign reserve earnings for Nigeria. The economic impact could not be overemphasized. It leads to economic development in the forms of direct and indirect job creations. For instance, people will be able to find jobs as tour guides and other jobs associated with the industry, which will lead to an expansive economy.
Additionally, attracting foreign tourists will help enhance the global image of the country, as well as restoring the confidence tourists and investors have in Nigeria. The multiplier effects of a booming tourism will lead to development in other areas such as hotels, retails, manufacturing, food production, and infrastructural development.
Obviously, tourism will enable wealth to be injected into the community and consequently increase the standard of living of that community through new employment and income. Tourism will also be a source of cultural pride for the local community that is hosting the foreign visitors.
But for Nigeria to fully develop tourism industry, the country must first address the security issues. Kidnappings and the menace of Boko Haram must come to an end for the country to take advantage of tourism. The confidence in the internal security of country must be restored first for all people to have a sense of security while in the country.