The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund –IMF, the economic experts and the Presidency, have all told us that we are facing the biggest economic challenge that Nigeria ever faced. Credit crunch, unemployment, recession and reduction in market confidence, as well as an end to our usual lifestyle and habits; Putting unrelenting pressures on costumers, employers, markets, policies; and Coupled with the long term systemic imperatives of poverty alleviation. Tourism though resisting better than some other sectors, has not been immune.
Our markets have crashed. Global travel has collapsed and there is a clear decline resulting in macro-economic deterioration. The same can be said of all economies in the world. And the pattern is continuing. Over the last few decades, our industry has experienced various setbacks, and faced severe natural and man – made crises. Through it all, we had demonstrated a remarkable resilience, coming out stronger and healthier. Resilience has become synonymous with tourism, but his time is different. This current crisis is truly global and its parameters are unclear. Stakeholders need a different mindset.
Proposal for a new pathfinder and recovery
Be Realistic: The crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic is real, significant and transforming. We must take every action necessary to shore up our own defenses, so that we can weather the storm and emerge on the other side when the good times return – as they surely will. Embrace change in markets, demands and new operating dynamics: Tourism stakeholders must recognise the measures and protocols that are now necessaryto take urgently but precise steps, and will require unusual actions because of the complex, interconnected and dynamically unfolding nature of the pandemic.
The future operating new patterns for global and national economies are to be largely different from the past; the very nature of this consumerism have changed and so our markets and our prospects. It is time for in-bound (domestic) tourism innovations and bold actions. Harness the power of technol-ogy: As we take these new measures and protocols we can gain advantage if we exploit the immense power of technology and modern communications including the internet, to reduce cost, operate with new efficiencies and manage risk in an environment of uncertainty and constant change. Boosting of public/private partnership is imperative: Stakeholders can benefit by putting the tried and tested model of public/ private partnership on turbo charge to navigate through the turbulence and beyond. Stakeholders need to identify best practice economy and operational models and help embed them in the markets around the world.
stakeholders need to fight the worst practices like multiple, excessive taxes and complex regulations that increase our cost and reduce the value of our products. Remind our leaders and policy makers that tourism means jobs, infrastructure, trade, and development: We must reinforce our position as primary income and job creators and again put that message firmly on the desk of the Minister of Finance, Planning and Budget, government leaders, Economic Advisory Council and Economic Sustainability Committee. Help the poorest grow tourism and advance development: We must ensure that state and local governments develop their tourism assets and grow their economies and respond to health and environmental issues. Our commitment to tourism development must remain resolute.
Growing our flights, revenues, technology, skills and financing in an increasingly changing neutral world. This is not an option, it is an imperative. Putting tourism and travel at the core of stimulus packages of the Post COVID-19 Pandemic: We must be at the heart of stimulus packages because the jobs and trade flow from a strong tourism sector as well as business and consumer confidence in the industry can play a big part in rebound from recession. Here we must convince our decision makers that spending on tourism yields massive returns across the entire economy because visitors are exports.
History has always shown that the biggest challenge provide the biggest opportunity. Today, world leaders are working together in ways that would have been unimaginable at any time in the past to coordinate and collaborate on health, economies, and development agenda.
*Shola Ilupeju, is tourism consultant