Nigeria’s travel and tourism industry has remained in a state of near-misses and failed projections occasioned by the glaring gap and huge vacuum in the online travel booking space.
In real terms, only a small proportion (about 13%) of Nigerian air travelers currently book travel products online – a damning statistic for a country boasting a population grossing over 190 million.
For the four components of the Travel and Tourism sector which include Leisure travel (inbound and domestic), Business travel, Domestic travel and foreign travel, the outlook remains the same: total contribution of the sector to GDP is nearly three times greater than its direct contribution.
According to available statistics, the direct contribution of Travel and Tourism to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was N2,29bn, approximately 1.9% of total GDP in 2017 – a figure that is expected to rise by 2.9% in 2018 and 4.3% per annum from 2018-2028, to N3,605.7bn, effectively representing 1.9% of total GDP in 2028.
On the other hand, the total contribution of Travel and Tourism to GDP was N6,205.8bn representing 5.1% of GDP in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 1.6% in 2018 and 4.8% per annum to N10,094.5bn from 2018-2018, representing 5.4% of GDP in 2028.
While the figures appear promising, it is worth considering where the Nigerian travel industry stands in the global scheme of things.
Ranked on a global list of 185 countries, Nigeria presently stands at positions 48 in total contribution and 163 in relative contribution respectively to GDP from the Travel and Tourism sector. In terms of expected real growth in the sector, Nigeria stands at a poorly 168 position and 59 in long-term growth forecast (2018-2028) in the sector.
Compared with global indices, Travel and Tourism represents 10.4% of global GDP while one-tenth of jobs worldwide are supported by the industry, representing 9.9% of global employment. Furthermore, one-fifth of all of all global net jobs created in the last decade have been within the Travel and Tourism sector.
Aligned to this is the poor experience of most Nigerians, many of whom have expressed their dissatisfaction with the level of service in the online travel booking space, despite the existence of a glut of players. For many corporate travelers, a segment that represents the overwhelming majority of online travel service consumers, the prevailing opinion is a glaring lack of real value. Same sentiment dominates among leisure travelers – many of whom are frustrated by sub-standard service and the limited choices of packages/offers available among current players – two of the most recurring pain-points that have drained confidence among customers in the sector.
It is an open secret that travels and tourism is an important global economic activity, with the potential to contribute significantly to a nation’s GDP.
Added to this is the immense employment-generation opportunity it holds when harnessed efficiently – a point aptly embellished by Gloria Guevara Manzo, President /CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council when she enthused that “inclusive growth and ensuring a future with quality jobs are the concerns of governments everywhere. Travel & Tourism, which already supports one in every ten jobs on the planet, is a dynamic engine of employment opportunity.”
Considering the nexus between technology and value-offerings in the online travel booking space, there is a growing need for a strong player backed by cutting-edge technology to fill the vacuum in the sector and take the industry to the next level. Further justifying this need is the undoubted influence of a world-class online platform and innovation in service delivery which has transformed the entire value chain of an allied sector such as e-Commerce in Nigeria, as seen in the rise and dominance of strong local players such as Konga which has re-defined the scope of offerings and customer experience in the industry.
The global travel and tourism industry is a multi-billion-dollar establishment which relies heavily on innovative technology and world-class customer experience in delivering a wide range of value offerings to all classes of travelers.
Nigeria is due for this disruption which has the potential of growing the sector’s contribution to GDP. Digital innovation is the way forward.