Growth returns, but challenges remain
The number of tourists visiting Nigeria increased in the last few years of the review period, recovering from record lows during the years 2009-2012. The recovery is as much driven by the government’s efforts to promote the destination, as it is by the perceived relative safety and security in a few areas of the country such as Abuja and Lagos, which are the main city destinations for travellers. However, tourism remains dominated by Nigerians residing abroad and corporate travel, while leisure travel remains very weak.
Niche areas of tourism
One of the key magnets for leisure tourism, and an area which has received much government support and attention, has been the development of fairs and festivals or carnivals such as the ones in Abuja and Calabar. These cultural festivals appeal to domestic tourists and expatriates and therefore play a key role in the domestic market. Meanwhile, the government is also working hard to exploit a lucrative niche area which is medical tourism, with a new medical city being built which will open in 2018.
Airlines endure with planned infrastructure developments
Nigeria’s airlines industry is plagued by corruption, mismanagement and poor infrastructure, which has led to the majority of local airlines incurring losses and struggling to generate revenues. Nigerian Air was one of the causalities of this hostile environment having discontinued its operations in 2012 following two rebranding efforts, along with Virgin’s withdrawal. This has led to international carriers being more successful than local operators. That being said, new developments across several airports might help the industry going forward.
Chained hotels still targeting Nigeria
Despite a rather weak economy and the poor performance seen by hotels in the last few years of the review period, chained hotels such as the Fairmont, Hilton, Accor Hotels and Marriott continue to target Nigeria for more developments. Nigeria has the largest number of hotels in the pipeline compared to the rest of the region. That being said, construction is slow to take off, and while many outlets are planning growth in Nigeria, few have moved on to the implementation phase because of the challenging economic situation and other challenges relating to the construction.
Intermediates struggle to adapt
While more Nigerians are taking trips every year, travel agencies have faced growing uncertainty in recent years as a result of the reduction in agency commissions received from airlines. Nevertheless, operators are adapting either by consolidating or by introducing more innovative and creative travel services. Meanwhile, online bookings are leading to growth in this category thanks to a growing population of young Nigerians who are more likely to book their trips online.
Source: EuroMonitor International