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«ABSRACT The Niger-delta region in Nigeria is arguably one of the most naturally endowed location on the African continent, apart from having one of ...»

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ISSN: 2186-845X ISSN: 2186-8441 Print

アシエン ヅロナル オフ メネゲメント サイネセゾ アナド エグケサン Vol. 1. No. 1. April 2012



Adeyinka Peters Ajayi

Department of Transport and Tourism Management,

College of Management Sciences, Redeemer’s University, Mowe, NIGERIA.



The Niger-delta region in Nigeria is arguably one of the most naturally endowed location on the African continent, apart from having one of the largest crude oil and gas deposits; it is also blessed with scenic canopy of untainted mangrove forest, innumerable supply of aquatic life stock and rich and diverse cultural heritage of its teeming populace. Development of world class tourist destinations in the region has however remained a mirage due to the incessant crisis and militarization of the region between various ethnic militia who are agitating for environmental friendly oil exploration techniques ( including share of oil wealth) and Nigeria armed forces. The study used primary and secondary data, the primary data were collected through a questionnaire survey of 100 respondents in Akassa region, secondary data were records of tourists visitation to various sites between 2003 and 2009 obtained from the data base of Akassa Development Association(ADA), one-sample t-test was used to analyzed the perception of the respondents on the effect of the crisis on the socio-economic development of the region and its tourism potentials, The one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) also revealed that there was a significant variation in tourists in-flow to the region in the period considered. The paper emphasized the need for concerted efforts that will discourage tension and outbreak of crisis in the region by all stakeholders.

Keywords: Crisis, militancy, tourism potential, socio-economic development, niger-delta


Tourism in recent times has developed significantly to become one of most rapidly growing industries in the world. According W.T.O (2002), ‘global economy is presently driven by three major industries and these are technology, telecommunication and tourism’. This assertion clearly corroborated the view of Poirier (2000) who opined that ’tourism today is second only to oil as the world’s leading export commodity, accounting for global earning of more than $300 billion dollars or nearly 25% of total world gross national product (GNP) in the last decade’ Obviously tourism growth and its resultant effect on economic fortunes of nations globally are not uniform. It is a truism that irrespective of how naturally endowed a location can be, or well developed the physical infrastructure are, without peaceable environment such resources may never yield their full tourism potentials.It has been established that the global tourism industry is quite sensitive. Thus, the driving force for tourism demand and supply can be susceptible to extreme events such as terrorism, political violence and natural disaster (Arana and Leon 2007;

Ryan 1993; Page and Connell 2003;Glenn 2001).

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Tourism is an example of a straight-forward concept and is defined by Essner (2003) as ‘a service based industry which is made up of several elements including transportation, accommodation, food and beverage, tours and merchandising’ Terrorism, however, is a more challenging concept to define. For decades, scholars have debated the “terrorist vs. freedom fighter” dilemma.

Enders and Saddler(2002) may offer the best definition, regarding it as’….. the premeditated use or threat of use of extra normal violence or brutality by sub national groups to obtain a political, religious, or ideological objective through intimidation of a huge audience, usually not directly involved with the policy making that the terrorist seek to influence’ Furthermore, as terrorism against tourists often involves international citizens, international terrorism is defined as “terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.” (Essner, 2003).

There exists a noticeable symbiotic relationship between peaceful atmosphere and tourism development in a destination. Evidences have proven that the absence of terror or violence along with related factors is usually a pre-condition generally accepted for the development of destinations by would-be investors (Wahab 1995; Reichel 2004; So’nmez 1998). Researches have equally shown that political instability and relations influence the images of destinations in tourists-generating regions (Hall and Sullivan, 1996; Goodrich, 2002). The negative images that are projected due to crisis and political instabilities are often difficult to dislodge even after the end of such crisis. Governments and authorities from nearly all tourist generating countries rightly holds the lives of their citizens dear. To this end, threat to lives, personal safety and properties of tourists and their possession overrides any other considerations. A good example is the United State Information Service (run by the USA government) which gives periodic information on its data base to American tourists and citizens on crisis ridden regions and nations. Goodrich (2002) asserts that the US government outlined regular travel advice warning to its citizens to avoid a wide range of countries as a direct off-shot of the 9/11 al-Qaeda (Table1). Empirical findings evinced that often the responses of tourism industry to crisis of any nature is predictable; usually resulting in a sudden reduction in the numbers of in-bound tourists and deepening economic fortunes of the host region or tourist destination. For example Mwathe (2011) reported that the political crisis in Egypt which engulfed the nation in 2011, occurred at the peak of in-bound tourist flow. Already the impact is seriously felt in massive reduction in tourist visits to historical sites in Luxor, Aswan and Cairo coupled with cancellation of hotel reservations and bookings.

This paper is a contribution to the empirical discussion on the impact of political unrest and crisis on tourism and socio-economic development in Nigeria, a typical case in a developing sub Saharan African economy. Studies on impact of political unrest and crisis on tourism and socioeconomic development have either been neglected or insufficiently studied in emerging tourist destinations on the African continent. This paper focuses on the assessment of the impact of civil unrest, resource agitation and militrilization of most communities in the oil-rich Niger-delta region of Nigeria, and its effect on tourism and socio-economic development of the region between 2003 and 2009. It also provides empirical basis for the explanation of the possible variation in the records of the in-bound tourist visitations to the Akassa region before, during and after the period of the crisis. The study is divided into five sections beginning with this introduction, Section two reviews some relevant literature on the subject of discourse, while www.ajmse.leena-luna.co.jp Leena and Luna International, Oyama, Japan.

128 | P a g e Copyright © 2012 ISSN: 2186-845X ISSN: 2186-8441 Print アシエン ヅロナル オフ メネゲメント サイネセゾ アナド エグケサン Vol. 1. No. 1. April 2012 sections and three and four discuss the results and the methodology applied in conducting the study. Section five discusses the conclusion.


There seems to be a consensus among scholars on the negative impacts that terrorism and crisis are having on the global tourism industry. (Wahab, 1995a; Abraham and Yoel, 1996 ; Adam and Sinclair 2002), Wahab (1995b) opined that random acts of terrorism curtails travel activities and may remain so until the public memories of the publicized incidents fade. The effect of crisis and terrorism acts can be enormous even in developed economy. Adam and Sinclair (2002) who studied the negative effects of the September 2001 al Qaeda air strikes on the US were of the opinion that the repercussions of the strikes extended beyond the activities that were directly associated with tourism. The following sectors and stakeholders suffered considerable losses;

aviation, hospitality, suppliers of intermediate goods and services, as well as employees and investors in the tourism industry. Similarly crisis engineered by public health disaster such as the foot and mouth epidemic in the UK ( Sharpley and Craven 2001), the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 (Page and Connell 2006) stretched the tourism industry abilities to formulate rapid responses to its limit. Despite the availability of equipments and human resources to combat such emergencies in most developed economies, morbid fear combined with media hype and misinformation created a devastating impact on the airline and hospitality industries in countries affected. The impact of terrorism and crisis however, can be more severe on developing economies and emerging tourist destinations. This is because competition for global tourism business is keen, and developing a world class tourist destination requires huge investment in infrastructural facilities and security outfits, This huge financial commitment nevertheless, a sudden eruption of crisis or terrorist act is capable of driving away tourists and slowing down economic growth. Essner (2003) reported that Kenyan economy lost a whopping 12% of annual gross domestic product (GDP) which is tourism driven due to the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in 1998, and a beach hotel in Mombasa in 2002.

There is a growing global concern by analysts that if not systematically dealt with crisis, political unrest and insecurity is capable of wiping off the giant strides witnessed in the tourism industry in the last three decades (Adora, 2010; Mwathe, 2011;Bishwanath, 2001, Bhata, 2002;

Holloway,2002). The Cambridge training and development CTAD (1999) opined that it is quite germane that host destinations (countries) design a proactive and a watertight security plan to safeguard and guarantee tourist’s wellbeing. It equally suggested that sometimes, curative approach may not be enough, as there may be need to include anticipatory plan of action to tackle any unexpected threat to the health, properties and lives of tourists who are most likely to be vulnerable in case of any security breach in a destination.

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discoursed that Cross-River state(despite the fact that it is an oil rich state in the southern part of Nigeria ) has latched on to this new thinking by investing heavily in infrastructural development in the evolution of world class tourist destinations in the state ( like Obudu cattle ranch and Tinapa business resorts among many others). Massive funds are deployed to the provision of facilities like motor able roads, airports, electricity, security infrastructures and apparatus, world class hotels and skilled personnel to manage these facilities. Apparently, some events and sites are already generating the much needed foreign exchange to the national coffers. Events like the Osun Osogbo festival, Olokun festival in Badagry, Obudu cattle ranch annual mountain race, the Annual Africa Movie Award (AMAA) in Yenogoa, Yankari game reserve in Bauchi and various sporting and game events etc. have become regular attractions in Nigeria.

It is obvious however that these resources are not being fully exploited (Okey 2006; Falade 2000). It is equally perceptible that tourism development in the country is not at par with major tourist destinations in the continent. Countries like Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, and Zimbabwe earn more from the proceeds of tourism than Nigeria. The increasing fear of insecurity of lives and properties is presenting a new challenge to the investors, scholars and other stakeholders in the industry ( Adora 2010; Okey, 2003). The fear may not be exaggerated if for examples the records of tourists visitation to sites in Akassa between 2003-2009 (table 5) are considered, there is discernible drop in the rate of visitation during the period the crisis lasted.

The suggestion that militants in Niger-delta sometimes deliberately choose to target tourists, tourist destinations and economic facilities with the intent of gaining publicity and furthering their ideological objectives seems particularly true. (Adora 2010; Okey 2003). Bunuzigha (2010) reported that tourism and socio –economic development of the entire region have suffered greatly because of deliberate economic sabotages experienced frequently on facilities (oil installations, road networks, tourist destinations etc), There is the more worrisome act of kidnapping tourists, foreign and local oil workers in exchange for culinary gains.

It may be farfetched and a bit misguiding to holistically declare all the perpetrators of the crisis in the Niger-delta region as criminals. There are evidences that some of the militants sincerely agitate for environmentally friendly explorative activities by the oil corporation operating in the region. This is buttressed by genuine quest for infrastructural development of its numerous riverine and estuarine communities through non-violence means. The methodologies employed by most of these groups do appear to be synonymous with terrorism world over. It is imperative to state that irrespective of the nature of crisis (either natural like tsunamis, public health crisis, or terrorist strikes), it produces the same catastrophic effect on tourism industry. Soumez and Allen (1994) in a study of interrelationship between tourism development and crisis asserted that ‘the tourism industry is highly vulnerable to natural (hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, torrential rains) and human –caused disasters –whether social or political (riots, insurgency, terrorism, crime, political upheaval, war, regional tensions).

Over time media coverage of disasters in tourist destinations have assumed a worldwide dimension as coverage of crisis that conveys vivid images of damages of properties, loss of lives, human suffering. Sadly, these economic and social disruptions are brought unfettered in most cases to the homes of would-be tourists around the world through print and electronic media.

Essner (2003) discovered that most countries or regions battling the negative effects of crisis www.ajmse.leena-luna.co.jp Leena and Luna International, Oyama, Japan.

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