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Business, Tourism

Tourism Bond: The Way Forward

Posted: May 1, 2015 at 5:02 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Bamidele Ogunwusi, Lagos

 

To many Nigerians, tourism is about providing assets for people to invest in. But it has been established over the years that people will not invest in assets unless there is a revenue stream from that investment and a return on their capital.

In an attempt to create robust tourism sector for the people of Nigeria, it has been established that the sector needs huge funds and the way, according to stakeholders in the sector, is to raise bond through the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Oscar Onyema, MD, NSE

Oscar Onyema, MD, NSE

Corroborating this, Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, said the Corporation is thinking in this direction.

“We intend to launch a tourism bond underpinned by what will be a secure revenue-stream generated from a prospective tourism development levied on departures. The bond will give us the money we need for investment in six projects and these investments will create jobs; careers, transfer of skills and the right product. The yield on the bond will recognize that we want investment and recognises where we are on the tourism ladder today. It’s all about upside,” Mbanefo stated.

According to her, Nigeria is able to offer a range of tourism experiences applicable to the general holidaymaker as well as the traveler looking for something off the beaten track.

“To invest in tourism, there must be clarity on how people can invest their tourism dollars for a fixed period, how they can monetise this tourism investment and how they can see a clear path for exit or onward-sale of their investment if need be. My idea is to identify for investment, tourism projects aimed at specific tourists and to create an enabling environment that respects and encourages this investment.

“And the first step is to identify six projects in the six geo-political zones that will benefit from investment and bring these investments up to a world standard. I see a read-across for Nigerian tourism with countries like Morocco, Tanzania, Vietnam, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, parts of the Caribbean and even Peru in terms of creating a unique experience not to mention beach experience and golfing experience, where with the right type of investment will provide alternatives to Morocco and parts of the Caribbean. We are a friendly nation welcoming visitors. Once identified, I intend to put the six (specific) projects into a prospectus which should be a document that forms the compendium of opportunities we are inviting people to invest in.

She added that to generate revenue, the corporation would need to achieve a world standard tourism experience. To do this, it is targeting cooperation of those who have had experience managing emerging markets tourism experiences and turning those into benchmarks that attract hundreds of millions of tourism dollars annually.

“Tourism in Nigeria is where telecoms was, say 20 years ago. Today, as an investment proposition, Nigerian telecoms industry is probably the best in the world. The same will be said of tourism in five to ten years from now if appropriate measures and initiatives are taken.

“The investors will be given long term tenure for their investment and where applicable the underlying asset will either revert to the government after the project investment period lapses or continue with the pioneer investor once revenue has been created for the government and a generous return on capital achieved for the investor.

“With this plan, we can achieve Nigeria’s goal of being tourism destination hot spot where people come to spend their dollars, yen, euros, yuan, rand, ringgits and British pounds and this is achievable within five to ten years.

“But first, we must define what makes the world class standard experience unique to Nigeria. We cannot be everything to everyone from day one, but we can entice them by knowing what they want and what their alternatives are.

“What we want to create is a must – have experience that meets a world – standard benchmark for these tourists and investors.

“For example, a tourist may have seen the slave trade story from other African countries’ perspectives, but the story is not complete until they have visited Nigeria for the last part jigsaw. They may enjoy golf and so want to be in sunshine which we have in abundance, be surrounded by first-class amenities at a price that represents value. The tourist may want to travel across water to an offshore beach resort just as he does in Tanzania or Zanzibar. He or she may want an ecological experience and yet know that when they get back to base they too have comfort, a great meal and seamless internet connections. The tourist may want a well-planned tour of durbars and festivals, but know that at each place he will be spending the night in comfortable world – class accommodation that enhances the experience. We want to create family – holiday destinations whether these are at beaches; water parks or even focused around Nigeria’s numerous lakes. There are ideas that we need to focus and galvanise to create a product that meets all health and safety requirements.”

 

Nigeria’s potentials

Tourism potentials abound in Nigeria in almost all the states of the federation. In Lagos for example, there is Lakowe Lakes Golf and Country Estate. There is also a burgeoning resort at Epe Health Resort and Spa that aims to be a market leader. The Old Lagos is also a great tourism potential that could be used to create a heritage experience full of small café’s.

Currently, NTDC is tinkering with the idea of partnering with Lagos State Government to make Old Lagos a heritage site with good access and paved roads and sidewalks. “There could be a law that protects the heritage of those (historical) buildings in the old Lagos and whose architecture tells a compelling story that is of interest to many people around the world,” Mbanefo stressed.

In Abuja, there is Jabi Lake, which is a tourism gold-mine which must be developed by tourism investors that the bond will attract, while Obudu Mountain Resort Calabar with its ecological potentials require further investment to make it comparable with ecological experiences in Rwanda and Uganda and Zambia.

In Rivers and Bayelsa there are hotels to be renovated and turned into real 5-star experiences as well as  riverine communities in which boating experiences can be turned into a world – class product.

The festivals and durbars of the North are a rich and vibrant tapestry of colour and enchanting mystery that is sought after around the world.

The vast geographical features of Nigeria have long been an object of fascination for people around the world who want to spend a great deal of time enjoying its inherent assets.