The Role Of Geographic Information System In Tourism Development In Nigeria

Ologun J.A.A
National Centre for Remote Sensing
Jos, Nigeria

Taiwo, O.Q
National Centre for Remote Sensing
Jos, Nigeria

Adeofun, C.O
University of Agriculture
Abeokuta, Nigeria

For tourism potentials in Nigeria to be utilized sustainably, the necessary infrastructures and enabling environment and information on tourism which will attract tourists must be available. Enabling environment in this case refers to all the parameters required to make a complete tour, such as good roads, functional telecommunications good accommodation and adequate security. Information on the existence of attractions sites and these infrastructures must be available to tourists and the general public this means that raw data on tourist sites and infrastructures has to be gathered, processed, structured, then stored and organized in such a way it is easily retrievable from storage.

A Geographic Information System, GIS is best for this exercise since it makes it possible to view and use both data types together. This paper discusses the practical role of GIS in developing tourism potentials in Nigeria. GIS also proved to be an indispensable tool for decision making.

The United Nations Statistical Commission in 1993 adopted the recommendations of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) on tourism statistics. The officially accepted definition is: “Tourism comprises the activities of people traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environments for more than one consecutive day for leisure, business, and other purposes”. The recommendations distinguish the following categories of tourism: (1) domestic tourism involving residents of a country visiting within that country, for example, a resident of Sheffield visiting London; (2) inbound tourism, involving non-residents of a country “A”, visiting country “A”, for example, Japanese tourists coming to Nigeria; (3) outbound tourism, involving residents of a country visiting other countries, as in a resident of Rome, Italy, visiting Brussels, Belgium. The three basic classifications can be further combined to derive the following categories of tourism: (4) internal tourism, which comprises domestic tourism and inbound tourism; (5) national tourism, which comprises domestic tourism and outbound tourism; and (6) international tourism, which comprises inbound and outbound tourism.

The earliest inhabitants of the landmass now called Nigeria paid little attention to tourism. They were preoccupied mostly with primary agricultural production. The people devoted the greater part of their day to farming, hunting or fishing; and evening was mainly time for inter-compound visits. Recreation was in the form of moonlight plays, story-telling sessions and rehearsals of activities for periodic festivals, traditional dance outings, wrestling competitions and other games.

In Nigeria, oil exploration and agriculture are the two largest foreign exchange earners. And because of the uncertainties in agriculture resulting from the unpredictable climate conditions and fluctuations of prices of agricultural products on the international market, among other issues, tourism remains the only source of investments and foreign currency.

With a population of about 120million people made of about 300 ethnic groups, a vast land of about 1million sqkm, a beautiful coastland of about 835km, a rich diversity of cultural and ecological resources, Nigeria appears destined to be indeed the “Giant” of Africa as far as tourism is concerned.

Over dependence on the oil sector by Nigeria has grossly affected other sectors of the economy. Today, nobody talks about the ground nut pyramids of Kano, coal of Enugu, tin and columbite of Jos-plateau cocoa of the West etc. which use to generate a lot of revenue for the country hence complementing the oil sector. To redress this situation, therefore, there is the need to invest in this industry and develop it to meet international standards

The Nigerian Government in her quest to diversify her mono-cultural economy, which is heavily dependent on petroleum export, has decided to take some measures to promote travel and tourism. The measures include the establishment of the National Tourism Policy (NTP) in 1990, the birth of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in 1992, the founding of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), in Baganda, Kano, and the National travel Bureau (NTB), a tour operating company of NTDC, (NTDC (2001)) the adoption of a Tourism master plan and National Tourism Council with the President as chairman. The aims of these measures can be summarized as follows:
  1. To make Nigeria the ultimate Tourism destination in Africa and;
  2. To make Tourism one of the greatest foreign exchange earners in an oil dependent economy.
The Nigerian governments and state have so far been the sole promoters, financiers and managers of tourism in Nigeria. Private developers have not been very interested, probably due to lack of a well-defined policy on tourism.

Funds meant for the development of the tourism sector were either not adequate or not bursed at all. In some cases where they were disbursed, they were diverted to other uses. For instances, in the Third National Development Plan, provision was made for 120 million but only about 16 per cent was disbursed to the tourism sector.

The 15-member Nigeria Tourism Board (NTB) had vast responsibilities but was not conferred with the necessary executive powers to enable it to perform. Besides, the legal framework of the NTB, as established by the Decree, had inherent defects which eventually rendered the Board ineffective. Such defects were obvious in the clause empowering it to acquire land which the Land Use Decree of 1978 had vested in the hand of the State Governors. The Board thus failed because the Degree did not sustain a well-planned and co-coordinated effort towards development of the tourism industry.

However, it will be rather unfair to conclude that the Nigeria Tourism Board, throughout its long period of existence, did not achieve anything. For one thing, it has always been on its toes to encourage and promote tourism. Although the NTB faced serious financial predicaments, yet it succeeded in advising the Federal and State Governments on matters affecting tourism planning and development. It served as a major link between the Nigerian government and the world tourism organization office in Spain, sending representatives to the organization’s conferences and seminars.

Back home the NTB had liaised with the corporate bodies and ministries to organize seminars, conferences and lectures and to sponsor trade fairs. For instances, in 1979, the NTB sponsored the first National seminar on the role of tourism in Nation Building at the federal palace Hotel, Lagos. The Board devoted its attention to publicity through printing and circulation of posters and guides as well as to providing consultancy services to upcoming operators and developers. The registration and classification of the hotels which were its primary sources of funds were gradually taken away from it by the State governments. Tourism statistics and data collection, storage and retrieval were not developed.

The following are the other major obstacles which have hampered the development of tourism in Nigeria;
  1. Low level of demand, mainly caused by poor perception of the tourism in Nigeria, which is a result of inadequate publicity and negative reports by the western media;
  2. Inadequate measures to attract private investors;
  3. Insufficient tourism facilities, sites and supporting infrastructure;
  4. Insufficient fund
  5. Problem of land acquisition;
  6. Dearth of data and statistics on the tourism facilities, services and potentials in the country; and
  7. Apathy of many Nigerians towards tourism.
The rapid growth of international tourism is reflected in the growth in membership of the WTO, which in 2003 had 139 country members, 7 associate members, and 345 affiliate members. All the indications are that tourism will increase to become a significant feature of economic and social development in many countries. The challenge, then, is to ensure that such growth can be accommodated within a sustainable framework.

Sustainable tourism can be defined as “a process that allows development to take place without degrading or depleting the resources which made the development possible”. Sustainability in tourism as a concept is often referred to as ecotourism, “green tourism”, or “responsible tourism”. Whatever its description it is seen as a means of recognizing that the Earth has finite resources and in tourism as in other sectors, there are limits to development, particularly in site-specific locations. Current concerns are to be found in tourist usage of game parks in Kenya, deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and damage caused by irresponsible trekking in mountain areas of Nepal. The interdependence between tourism, culture, and the environment, has become a critical consideration in the formulation of tourism policies. Sustainability applies not only to small-scale tourism projects; it is equally, if not more important in areas where there is high-volume tourism, as in the Mediterranean basin countries where environmental pollution is of major concern.

Since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, six factors of economic significance have either singly or jointly proved conducive to the development of recreation and tourism in the country. These are:
  1. The relatively rapid transformation of the economy as result of which an increasing number of workers became engaged in non-agricultural jobs, particularly in the manufacturing and service of the economy.
  2. A rise in the real and disposable personal income of the citizens;
  3. Reduction in the number of working days in a week from six to five, thus allowing more leisure time for workers in government ministries and other establishments;
  4. Increased mobility through vehicular transport, a sizeable proportion of which is owned on a personal basis;
  5. Provision of recreational facilities and services in many States and centers in the country; and,
  6. Establishment of tourism boards in many States.
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The Nigeria Tourist Association (NTA) was set up in September 1962, to superintend the tourism industry in Nigeria. In 1963, Nigeria joined the International Union of Travel Organization (IUTO), now World Tourism Organization (WTO), based in Spain. In 1970, she joined other members of the WTO in celebrating the World Tourism Day for the first time.

Since then, the door to Nigeria has been open for foreign tourists. The States and Federal Government have joined hands to promote and manage the expanding sector. Over the years, several conferences and seminars have been held to promote the development of tourist. Such conferences took place in Lagos in 1975, 1980 and 1983, in Benin City in 1988, and in Ilorin in 1989, to consider a” Trade and Tourist Policy for Nigeria“. By 1976, in view of the world-wide economic crises resulting from the petroleum crisis, the World Bank, organized a seminar on the social, cultural and economic importance of tourism and subsequently encouraged, especially less developed countries, to invest in the tourism industry. This was with a view to: earning more foreign exchange; increasing national income; encouraging and stimulating the development of the backward and rural areas; attaining social and political understanding and integration; and, achieving general physical development of the economy.

To realize her vision to become a service provider in space technology, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria established the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in May 1999 and created the enabling environment by approving the National Space Policy and Programmes in July 2001. The Agency - NASRDA has the mandate to pursue the development and application of space science and technology programmes for socio-economic benefits of the nation.

The major thrust of the Nigerian National Space Policy and Programme is to make space research and development activities parts of the overall strategies for sustainable national development (Akinyede, 2003). The major mandate of the Space Agency is to promote and consolidate all space applications and space-related activities for the purpose of optimizing resources and making the space programmes to have more impact on national development. To this extent lot of work has been carried out on the application of satellite data and GIS in all areas of the Nation’s Socio-economic development and particularly in the area of Tourism.

Since tourism contributes a lot to the economy of a country, with GIS spatial component can be effective added to complement statistical data. One the objective of this paper is to develop a multimedia GIS database for Tourism industry as a perceived technical solution to the problem of promoting both domestic and international tourism in Nigeria. Such a database constitutes the basis for promoting efficient and productive multimedia spatial information services by private and government tourism agents all over the country. The greatest challenges in developing a multimedia GIS is to integrate different types of data such as text data, graphical data (maps, graphs), pictures data (still and moving Pictures) and sound data (voice and music), thus creating in some cases, a multiple representation for the same data.

Classification of Tourism Data
In this paper, tourism data were gathered in under the following categories, which constitute layers and sub layers in the designed GIS database:
  1. Traditional Cultural Tourism: Museum, art galleries, cultural, religious and national festivals, historical monuments, natural features such as sites and buildings, arts and crafts. Under this are the Ancient shrines in Awka and Nsude (Anambra), and the Oshun shrine. Table 1a is a database of Cultural Tourist attractions in Abia State of Nigeria while Figure 3 is Tourism Map showing Cultural Troupe from Plateau State, Nigeria.
  2. Ecological Tourism: Geological / geophysical / geomorphological features, (mountains, waters, falls, springs, beaches, national parks, games/forest reserves, botanical / zoological gardens etc. This comprises of the beautiful landscape sceneries of Jos, Bauchi Mambila and Obudu. These are high altitude areas with mild climate. Other areas of rich ecological interest are Olumo Rock, Wase Rock Mount Patti (Kogi), Idanre Hills, Olosunda hills (Ondo), etc. Also the Natural Warm Springs at Ikogosi (Ondo), Ogidi (Imo) and Wiki Warm Spring at Yankari National Park, and Waterfalls at Ofejiji (Kogi), Ipele Iloro (Ondo), Kwa falls near Calaber, etc. Added to this is luxuriant flora in high forest grassland areas. Wild life is found in these areas and all the national parks including the famous Yankiri Game Reserves. Many states have zoological gardens.
  3. Notable modern Features and Facilities:
Hydroelectric power, dams, oil rigs, sporting facilities and other notable engineering structures. Travel and Accommodation Facilities, Tourism Centers and agents, and other related data to tourism. These include Lake Chad in the North (Borno), Kainji Lake- a National Park with a Dam. In 1992, it received 3,000 tourists .Other lakes are Agulu and Otomoye Lakes (Anambara), Ebomi Lake, Oguta Lake resort (Imo). Figure 2 is a Tourism map of Plateau State, Nigeria highlighting the various geophysical and geomorphological features that has made the state the home of tourism in Nigeria.

The data obtained under the three classes were related to their geographical locations in their states and local government areas of Nigeria. Table 1a, and b contains a sample data from the Database showing tourism attraction from some states, their local governments, the type and class of Tourism attraction, (Ayeni et. al (2001).

Queries can be made on National Parks, Zoos etc concerning locations and nearest towns and mode of transport. Services obtain from various parks can be obtained by clicking on several points on each park, information on animals, birds and vegetation can also be obtained. The list of queries is endless and unique to every potential tourist.

(See figure 4: Map of Nigeria showing some tourist attractions in some states)

Figure 1 below is a diagram indicating the flow of information for data capturing

Figure 2: Tourism Map of Plateau State.

Figure 3: Tourism Map showing Cultural Troupe from Plateau State

Figure 4: Map of Nigeria showing some tourist attractions in some states

Table 1a : Extraction from Database of Cultural Tourist Attractions in Abia State, Nigeria

Table 1b : Extraction from Database of Ecological Tourist Attractions in Abia State, Nigeria

From the forgoing, there is no doubt that Nigeria has a lot of tourism potentials. The return of democracy is a blessing to this sector and the government and private sector should work in harmony to make sure that the tourism sector realizes its prospect for Nigeria to lead other African countries as the greatest destination. On the continent especially at this time when the WTO’s attention has turned to Africa. There is every hope that if the tourist sector will be adequately catered for to make Nigeria a leading destination in the new millennium.


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