More than 17 years ago, an Italian tourist visited Ibadan and lodged at KS Motels, Total Garden. I visited the tourist in the company of my friends and in the course of our conversation, he was very impressed with my knowledge of Ibadan and especially when I told him Rome had similar features with Ibadan: Rome was built on 7 hills. Ibadan was also built on 7 hills. I ended up taking him on a tour of Ibadan during his stay. That was my introduction to tourism.
It is too clear that Nigeria is just playing lip service to tourism inspite of the numerous tourist attractions in the country. Let’s crunch a few numbers and also look at the value chain effects.
SeaWorld has 9 zoological and 11 theme parks in the US. It employs 22,100 people. Disneyland Paris has 14,244 employees. Disney Worldwide has 195,000 employees. By contrast, federal civil servants in Nigeria are 89,511 as at 2015. Dangote, the largest private sector employer of labour in Nigeria has 26,000 workers. Lagos State has 60,000 civil servants. Oyo State has 40,000. Kaduna has 30,064. Osun has 21,555.
In other words, Disney employs more people than the Federal Government of Nigeria. Seaworld employs almost equal number as Osun State.
Let’s look at the financial numbers.
In 2014, SeaWorld made revenue of $1.37b- that is about N493b by today’s estimate. Disneyland Paris (just one park out of several) made revenue of $85.7m- that is about N30.8b. All the 11 Disney parks made $16b in revenue in 2016. Hold it- that is N5.7 trillion naira. I really don’t want to blow our mind by pointing out how the Walt Disney Group (which includes the films and studios) made revenue of $55.6b in 2016 (over N20 trillion naira). Compare this revenue to the entire Nigeria budget of 2017 which is N7.29 trillion (about $20b). Lagos State’s 2017 budget is N813b ($2.2b).
In other words, the Disney parks alone can fund the entire Lagos State budget more than 7 times over. The parks alone will fund 80% of Nigeria’s 2017 budget. The Group will fund it almost three times over.
Let’s look at the value chain.
In 2016, 68m people visited Orlando. 113m people visited Florida. They spent $109b. 24m people visited SeaWorld in 2014. Disney attracted 132m in 2013. On the average, Magic Kingdom (a Disney theme park) attracts about 50,000 people daily who spend $150. That’s a spend of $7.5m daily.
Tourism is the first, second or third largest employer in 29 states in America. It has provided additional 5m jobs since 2014. It employs 23m people in China. Tourism contributed $5.5m to Nigeria’s GDP in 2016. For the US, it was $1.5trillion.
We need to be deliberate in our development of the sector. Government should create several incentives to attract investors. Security is a major concern. Let states concession existing tourist attractions. Let there a clear road map. The benefits are immense- from hotels to transportation, entertainment, foods, retail trade and recreational activities.
We have the population to support it and we have a great weather. What is left is to understand that tourism can give to Nigeria in a year what oil can’t. Expected revenue from oil sector in 2017 is $6.5b. Disney makes almost thrice that figure. And with less hassles.
Photo credit: Google image.