The study examined the impact of tourism on economic growth in Nigeria using Ile-Ife as a case study.

The study employed the descriptive research design for the data collection process by administering a structured questionnaire to 180 purposively-selected residents of Ile-Ife, however, 168 copies of questionnaire were valid.

The results revealed that; the frequency of tourist visit to Ile-Ife is high, and many of them visit the city for vacation or excursion purpose; tourists are fascinated by cultural events, antique sites, and museum in Ile-Ife; tourism has significantly impacted economic development in Ile Ife within the context of revenue generation, job creation, investment, and infrastructure development; inadequate funding, insecurity, non-implementation of national tourism policy, poor management of facilities, and ineffective marketing of tourism prospects as key constraints to tourism development in Ile-Ife.

The study concluded that tourism has contributed to economic development in Ile-Ife in terms of income generation, provision of employment opportunities, urban transformation, infrastructural development, and investment. The study further recommended that; Tourism development should integrate all the stakeholders especially indigenous people whose cultural manifestation are great attractions to tourists; The State of Osun with the support of the Federal Government should create an enabling environment, develop infrastructure, safeguard investment, and reduce structural bottlenecks to enhance investor participation in tourism sector in Ife; Tourism incentive packages like easy tourist visa should be provided by government to encourage tourism investments; there is the need for integrated ecological, economic and institutional research on long term basis in order to have a holistic management approach of sustainable tourism development.




1.1       Background to the Study

Tourism has been widely acknowledged by scholars as a socio economic activity capable of promoting economic growth in both developed and developing countries. According to Abdul, Tahir and Muhammed (2013), tourism industry is an important business sector in the world and its importance is manifested in the revenue generation and employment opportunities it offers. Yusuff and Akinde (2015) emphasized that a well-organized and managed tourism sector can transform an economy by facilitating the transfer of technology and information, accelerates reforms and empowers women and minorities in the system.

Nigeria has huge tourism potentials as the country is magnificent in arts, crafts, sport, park, museum, cultural and historical heritage, good tropical weather, lush vegetation, variety of wild life, tribes which are critical in rural and urban tourism development. Yusuff and Akinde (2015), state that Nigeria has unprecedented potentials to become an important tourist destination in the world.

The country has over 7000 tourist centers among them are the 5 UNESCO heritage cities which include the Osun-Oshogbo Sacred Groove (1995) located on the outskirts of Osogbo in Osun state, Idanre Hills (2007) in Idanre, Ondo state, Old Oyo (1995) in Southwest Nigeria, Oyo state. Ogbunike Caves (2007) in Anambra state and the Ancient Walls of Kano and Associated Sites - Dala Hills, Kurmi Market and Emirs Palace (2007) found in Northern Nigeria, Kano state.

There are about 371 tribes and over 200 languages with rich cultural heritages that, if properly exploited could galvanize economic growth and development of the Nigerian economy. Efforts to translate the huge tourist potentials of Nigeria to pragmatic fortunes dates back to 1962, when a private group formed the Nigeria's Tourism Association that was subsequently admitted into World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1964. Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) remains the highest body under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and National Orientation, saddled with the responsibility of promoting, marketing and coordinating tourism activities.


NTDC was still not able to make Nigeria the ultimate tourism destination in Africa as it was intended because of insecurity and inadequate infrastructures, with tourism assets laying underinvested and wasted. In 2000, the ministry of culture and tourism was established to cater for tourism development. Yet, satisfactory outcomes were not recorded and this necessitated the need to raise the profile of the country's tourism sector; accordingly, the Miss Tourism Nigeria pageant was introduced in 2004 to create awareness for youth tourism through the introduction of various skills and training of youths especially in the use of French language. In 2005, the federal government of Nigeria in collaboration with United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) facilitated the Nigeria Tourism development master plan. The objective was to develop sustainable tourism by capitalizing on heritage diversity as the basis for promoting domestic and international tourism.

Tourism over the years has proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to economic growth of nations by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs. Acknowledging these facts, many developing and developed countries today rely on tourism as an option for sustainable development of their nations. Tourism industry has now grown to be the world’s largest industries and one of its fastest growing economic sectors. The recent publication of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC, 2019) showed that in 2019, travel & tourism’s total contribution to the global economy rose to US$8.9 trillion, about 10.3 per cent of global GDP, not only outpacing the wider economy but also growing faster than other significant sectors such as financial and business services, transport and manufacturing and its total contribution to employment was nearly 330 million jobs about 9.7 percent of world employment. The sustained demand for travel & tourism, together with its ability to generate high levels of employment continues to prove the importance and value of the sector as a tool for economic development and job creation.

Tourism today has become one of the engines of growth for Nigerian economy with a contribution of 5.20% to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing 4.70 per cent of total employment in 2018 (WTTC, 2018). Tourism industry contribution to GDP, according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is envisage to rise by 2.6 per cent in 2019 and rise by 8.1 per cent per annum from 2019 to 2024.

Thus, recognising the tourism sector is necessary given that, the causal relationship between tourism and economic growth in Nigeria is not clear coupled with the consideration of the hypothesis best explains the dynamics of the sector in the Nigerian economy. Also, the uncertainty in the causal relationship of the sector in growth raises some policy implications which this study hopefully might give. It is therefore imperative to examine the tourism-growth nexus with a view to repositioning the tourism sector in Nigeria in this period of economic recovery.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

While the tourism sector has been explored deeply in Europe, Asia, South America and North America, its potentials remain largely untapped in Nigeria. There is a basic need to confront the problem of wildlife conservation tourism in Nigeria. The current indiscriminate hunting and harvesting of animals in one forest, human population pressure, pollution, overgrazing, forest fires, public apathy, and externalities arising from the divergence between private and public social costs and benefits constitute great constraint to wildlife tourism in Nigeria. The dependent of the country on oil for revenue generation, without a closer look on tourism which if properly organized could generate more revenue than the oil sector.

The current status accorded to tourism in Nigeria is far from being Africa’s preferred tourist destination, yet it can be so turn around to make it so preferred. Generally, the contribution of tourism to Nigeria’s GPD is 5% lower than Africa’s average.

The policy orientation and actions of the government have over the years led to systemic neglect of what could have been a growing industry. Nigerian states such as Plateau, Bauchi, Lagos, who should have made it goldmine have failed to tap into it by failing to provide necessary infrastructure needed for the sector to thrive.

Lately, the insecurity state in the country, made it difficult for organizing international and inter-state fora, non-the-less the sector still remains top for economic breakthrough through employment that is capable of generating multiplier effect. Essentially, the sustained demand- on a global basis- for tourism coupled with its demonstrated ability to generate high employment levels have increased the value and importance attached to the sector as a tool for job creation and development (Aremu & Lawal, 2018).

1.3       Significance of the Study

This research work provides an insight into the necessity of tourism as a means of improving economic growth and will therefore be of valuable use to the following set of people;

  1. 1.      The Government and Relevant Authorities

It will show vividly the importance for the allocation of economic resources to make tourist attractions more appealing through the improvement and maintenance of infrastructure and the general development of local tourist attractions in the economy also formulate guiding policy to encourage tourist patronage

  1. 2.      The Academia

The study will provide insight on career opportunities and ignite creative thinking in relation to the tourism industry both for students, lecturers, researches, and scholars.

  1. 3.      Tourist

It will provides the revelations on the availability of tourist attractions in Nigeria

  1. 4.      Commoner

This work will serve as an eye opener and a valuable store of knowledge, also encouraging citizen to partake in domestic tourism

1.4       Research Questions

1.       What is the trend of the contribution of tourism to the Nigerian economy?

2.       What are the ways in which tourism can be used as a key to sustainable national economic development in Nigeria?

3.       What are the constraints on the use of tourism as a key to sustainable national economic development in Nigeria?

4.       What are the contribution of tourism towards economic growth (GDP) of Nigeria?

5.       To determine how much capacity tourism has tackle social economic problems; low GDP, poverty, general unemployment etc.

1.5       Research Objectives

The broad objective of this study is to evaluate and access the contribution and relationship between tourism and economic growth in Nigeria. The specific objectives to be pursued are;

  1. To examine the pattern of the contribution of tourism and the Nigerian economic growth
  2. To determine the ways in which tourism can be used as a key to sustainable economic development in Nigeria?
  3. To examine the possible constraints to tourism development as key to sustainable economic development
  4. To investigate the contribution tourism towards economic growth (GDP) of Nigeria
  5. To determine how much capacity tourism has tackle social economic problems; low GDP, poverty, general unemployment etc.

1.6       Research Hypothesis

Н₀: The tourism sector of Nigeria has no significant impact on the economic growth in Nigeria.

Н1: The tourism sector of Nigeria has significant impact on the economic growth in Nigeria.

1.7       Justification of the study

Various empirical studies on the impact of tourism on economic growth have brought about different inferences. This work will examine the functional relationship between tourism and economic growth in Nigeria as an effective means of promoting a sustainable growth, creating employment opportunities and improving the populace general standard of living. It also aim to analysis the importance of tourism and tourism contribution to the economy. Having experience a growth of 25% between 1995 and 2005, tourism today accounts for 10% of the source of foreign exchange earnings for many developing countries. The tourism industry is growing at a respectable rate of 7.2% in Africa per year and this number has the potential to be much higher (Munzali, 2011). Tourism in Nigeria therefore need to be paid more attention ever than before because of it increasing relevance and significant level of growth prediction.

1.8       Scope of Study

The research work covers the impact of tourism on economic growth of Nigeria. It estimates tourism among other economic sectors as a very important industry in the economy that will affect the socio economic life of people that are faced with poverty, unemployment, low per capital income and places emphasis on that fact that growth can occur if the tourism potentials of the country are identified, re-discovered, harnessed, developed and packaged into a tourist product.