Following the election and swearing-in of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015, the perception of his thriftiness and anti corruption posture, has slowed down business in the travel and tourism industry, which in recent time has witnessed a geometrical drop in activities.
It would be recalled that the industry, which has benefitted from the waywardness and recklessness of the previous governments at all levels across the country, fuelled the rapid growth of the hospitality sub-sector in the last decade.
This act African Travel Times investigation revealed to be mere ‘perception’ of the new government resolve to depart from the way things were done in the past.
The travel and tourism industry that has benefitted from the waywardness and recklessness of the previous governments at all levels across the country fuelled the rapid growth of the hospitality sub-sector in the last decade.
Between 2004 and 2014, the travel and tourism, most especially the hospitality sub-sector grew at almost 70 per cent annually, with hotels of all shapes springing across the country and creating thousands of skilled and unskilled jobs.
Today, those jobs for all the right reasons are under threat as the sector is falling apart. Until recently, the federal government and its agencies, states government were the life-wire of the sector-with almost half of all hotel users nationwide are either people working for government or people with links with government or its agencies.
Unfortunately, calls for government and its agencies at all levels to focus on people-oriented projects, rather than the few privileged staying in Abuja and states capitals to decides and squander the commonwealth, is no longer fashionable hence the sharp departure.
Speaking with African Travel Times in Abuja recently, Tomi Akingbogun, President of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria [FTAN], lamented that hotels in the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] are worst hit and that many are converting to residential properties.
Apart from Abuja, cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri are experiencing low patronage due to the aforementioned perception of ‘no food for lazy man’ anymore, as political affiliation or even by association cannot guarantee wealth anymore, hence the days when governors, commissioners, parastatals keep families, friends and associates in hotels permanently is also drawing down.
Also directly affected is the number of airlines passengers that has also dropped following the perception that it is no longer business as usual.
According to National Bureau of Statistics, the declines in total passengers in the first quarter of 2015 were driven by lower numbers of domestically travelling passengers.
The breakdown revealed that the Number of domestically travelling passengers dropped by 708,092 or 23.84 per cent below Q4 of 2014 values, while international passengers increased by 254,948 passengers or 21.35per cent.
A total of 2,261,648 or 60.95 per cent of the entire passenger traffic in Q1 of this year travelled domestically.
This was even more surprising, taking into account that this was an elections year that is usually charaterised by incessant travel for political activities, which African Travel Times investigation revealed will continue for the foreseeable future.
While the industry is reeling from the general lull in the sector, destinations that normally receive high number of Nigerian visitors are already feeling the pains, as fewer people travel abroad for holiday of all sorts.
Destinations like, Dubai, South Africa, Ghana, Gambia UK and the United States are all affected. In time past, a good number of the travelling populations were government officials from all levels, going abroad for one frivolous event or the other which the emergence of President Muhammadu Bahari has helped stem the trend, except those on essential trips among others.
As the slow-down bites, one of the leading hotels in Ghana that is normally frequented by Nigerians told African Travel Times penultimate week that, the traffic from Nigeria has dropped significantly and thus becoming worrisome, a trend that may cause a major slow down to the high fly hospitality industry that is constantly being fuelled by visitors from Nigeria daily.
Whilst the hospitality sector is the worst affected, the airlines are not spared either as fewer people are making foreign trips, compared to this periods in the last decade. Visits to some of the airlines offices across Lagos and some leading travel agencies revealed same downward trend.
In the past few years, it was fashionable to own a hotel. So, there was competition among politicians and socialites to invest in the sector. Today, it is gradually turning into nightmare as more and more are running out of business due to poor patronage or bad management.
Wole Shadare, an experienced aviation journalist told African Travel Times that there is no free money as it used to be, hence the drop in both domestic and international trips.
A sales manager in one of the international carrier also corroborated Shadare,’s position that there seems to be scarcity of cash hence the drop.
He noted that despite that we are in the high season, sales is not where it used to be. In spite of the drop though, fares are still very high, an indication that the airlines are yet to come to terms with the reality of new regime and a more prudent administration.
While some foreign major destinations will feel the pains of the drop, it might just be the right time to kick start the abandoned domestic tourism development, marketing and promotion that have been stalled for years now.