Nigeria has great prospects when it comes to tourism. A country with diverse landscape, beautiful scenery and many destinations with historic significance should have a thriving tourism sector. Tourism is a vital sector to every nation in the world as it contributes immensely to a nation’s GDP. There are a lot of tourist centres in Nigeria and they possess immense potential for the economy if their resources are harnessed well.
Tourism and air transport industry complement each other. Tourism depends on transportation to bring visitors, while the transportation industry depends on tourism to generate demand for its services. The growth in tourism industry directly reflects onto the air transportation. Over the last 30 years, the number of international tourists has more than doubled.
However, air transport is the main mode of transportation for international tourism because it is safer, comfortable and faster. Air transport plays a dominant role in inter-regional movements of tourists, which normally entails travel over long-distance. Growth rates of international air traffic are pegged with growth rates of international tourism. Attractive package tours, competitive airfare attract more and more tourist day by days, therefore both the industry is expanding rapidly.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu in the Aviation Benefits report (2017) said: “Well over a billion tourists are crossing international borders each year and over half of these are travelling by air to their destinations – in fact over 80% in many island States. Aircraft also transport some 35% of world trade by value, and the lowering costs and expanding routes across our network mean that the economic benefits from tourism and other aviation connectivity impacts will only increase in the years ahead. This trend is further reinforced by the dramatic forecasts we’re seeing for future air traffic growth.”
The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 published by the World Economic Forum, indicated that the aviation industry supports tourism and international business by providing the world’s only rapid worldwide transportation network. Airlines transported 2.8 billion passengers and 47.6 million metric tonnes of air cargo in 2011, connecting the world’s cities with 36,000 routes. By providing these services, the aviation industry plays an important role in enabling economic growth and provides an important infrastructure asset that facilitates activities that enhance a nation’s productivity.
However, Nigeria has not fully explored the potentials in terrorism through aviation. This is as a result infrastructural facilities at our airports, inconsistent policies, limited air routes, and other factors. Nigerian airports are not up to international standard and this is needed to attract tourist to the country. The first place a foreigner sees in a country is its airports. If airports offer bad services, he would not want to come back. Also, in local air travel, there are several problems of abrupt flight cancellations and delays and increase in ticket prices. Aviation policies and decisions of governments can also make a big difference in the destinations available to tourists.
To maximize the benefits of tourism through aviation, the modernization and expansion of the airports to handle increased demand is imperative. Our airports are not built to accommodate a lot of travelers coming in. Government should also create policies that would encourage local airlines to thrive and meet up with international standards. This will also create competition between airlines which will also lead to reduction of air fares. More efficient aircrafts, a larger number of flight connections and the use of technology will also facilitate tourism in the country.