From the very beginning of human and religious history, many of the people or persons that propagated them are remembered for the touristic physical value they created while alive.
Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Han Buddhism, Taoism and Buddhism where they were practised; and thousands of years after those who promoted them have gone, their ideology and teaching spread across continents with many of their followers bonding fully when eventually they visit or tour some structures left behind by them.
These tourism values range from where such great prophets and individuals were born, the homes they grew up and temple built by them.
For Christianity, Israel with many places that are associated with Jesus Christ is popular among Christians while modern day Saudi Arabia which was the homeland of Prophet Mohammed is noted for Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest sites in Islam because of their tourism values.
For Nigeria, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, Founder/General Overseer of Synagogue Church of All Nations [SCOAN], is a Christian that has taken Christianity to another level.
Since he began his prophetic journey, he has drawn a large crowd from far and near. His following breaks barriers of colour and race with the sick looking for solutions to their problems and enthusiasts looking up to him for inspiration.
However, his recent announcement that he could relocate from Nigeria to possibly Israel, is nothing but troubling for the tourism industry in Nigeria.
Many travel and tourism analysts; most especially religious tourism writers are worried of what will become the legacy of Synagogue Church and Prophet TB Joshua eventually?
Over the years, history taught us that despite the general acceptability of teachings of past prophets and great men, what makes them popular today and famous are sites and structures that are associated with them which also have tourism value.
However today, countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan and several countries in Asia that were notable for some brands of religions are now even more considered and made famous for the economic value, rather than their original intent.
These places associated with them now draw visitors from around the world.
Across cities that are associated with religions, hotels of various sizes and shopping malls, souvenir shops and other businesses are built to provide services which boost the local economies.
Communities like, Ikotun, Ejigbo, Igando, Isheri in Lagos state have been transformed into small business enclaves because of Synagogue Church of All Nations.
Needless to say, the recent announcement of his purported relocation will not only rob Lagos State and Nigeria of economic benefits through tourism. T.B Joshua, the founder may also need to cement his name among great prophets that had lived when he is no more.
Though the current church building is massive, it still lacks the kind of spectacles that are characteristic of great places of worship of time past.
Israel is already saturated with many great prophets and T.B Joshua being a recent addition will reduce his acclaim.
For Prophet Joshua, he has earned his place in history and when he is no more, his prophetic prowess will continue to echo around the globe; what is left for TB Joshua to do is create touristic value for the church so that it will not be like some other churches that collapsed within few years after the demise of their founders.
Another clear example is the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s Spiritual leader who fled to India in 1959, his movement is now controlled and can receive only a limited number of visitors at the discretion of the Indian government.
The Dalai Lama’s Spiritual influence has waned and Tibet is denied the opportunity of growing its economy through tourism from visits by followers and enthusiasts from across the globe.
TB Joshua story will not be different should he relocate to Israel. His activities and movement will be curtailed knowing fully the security situation in that country.
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said in response to news to Synagogue relocation, “government will do whatever it can, to ensure Synagogue remains in the country”.
There is no place like home because TB Joshua and his church will remain a big influence and relevant in Nigeria.