By: Anago Osho
The question arises if the covid -19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise to the tourism industry and its practitioners. I think the experience differs from one person to another, group to group, company to company, and from one country to another but are we really out of it, is just a thought.
The effect of the pandemic should be personified. Everyone has a unique story to tell. It was a terrible timeline in the history of tour guiding and most hotels became gravely.
The covid-19 pause on the world timeline was beneficent to the environment, as environmental degradation was halted and plants regenerated and animals reproduced and ecotourism thrived on its own. The negative effect of human activities on nature was reduced. It gave ecotourism practitioners and activists hope for regeneration.
The effect of the pandemic is still felt, either directly or indirectly. Tourism practitioners, tourist guides, etc. in tourist destination communities cannot singularly convince the locals in Nigeria and West Africa, especially when potential tourist communities feel undermined politically, socially, and economically to align with tourism development goals.
It’s not as if the locals don’t know the advantage or positive results of the execution of tourism development goals or tourism masterplans, but another question is this. What is the mindset or what had happened to the subconscious of those that seem to have lost hope in the governing machinery? Part of the solution should be the involvement of persons that understand and are passionate about sustainable community tourism development, and are not selfish and are unbiased in their functions but are keen on results that directly affect the local life.
Covid -19 pandemic indeed opened up the knowledge of new tourist attraction sites and tourist destinations, but may not be a blessing to a lot of places in Nigeria and the world. I know many practitioners that changed professions because they can’t cope and they have families to feed. Though things are changing positively at the moment, hospitality businesses are becoming more expensive to administer in Nigeria as inflation persists.
During covid -19, some tour guides that work with NGOs were fortunate to still receive part of their salaries despite the pandemic that paralyzed activities, and the same goes for those that work under government ministries as tourism officers in Nigeria. The population of such fortunate ones is very little like 5%. And about 95% were stranded and at the mercy of grace and mercy.
The tourism industry is driven by private participation. It was in respect of this that some governments, especially the Lagos State government, and wealthy individuals decided to render help and gave palliatives to ease the suffering conditions of tourism practitioners.
I have been training tour guides before the pandemic but during the pandemic, I trained more tour guides in Africa than anyone. As the pandemic began to ease, communities use the pandemic pause to invite me, Anago Osho to motivate the youths and enthusiasts in their immediate communities to understand and value the communal tourism potential and the importance of tour guides in their community. The training and experience with CNI and the people of Epe (a cultural and historical town on the outskirt of Lagos state) will forever linger on my mind and the outburst or effect of the training on the people afterward. After the pandemic, different people began to see the value of tour guide training.
The psych and living standards of the people should be considered during and after the advent of covid 19, whenever the effect of the pandemic is discussed.
The living standard of the people of the world and especially of a country will contribute to the values of travel or tourism in such society. The general development of a country will affect tourism naturally. And vice versa, the development of the different tourism products in tourist destinations in a country will distinguish add tremendously to the GDP of such country. The tourism chain is all-encompassing. From the travel agent to transportation, from the tour organizer to the attraction site, from the market woman and man to the food vendor, ice-cream vendor, restaurant and bars, hotel, cultural knowledge, historic route, tour guides, business potentials, souvenirs, etc.
It should be known that everyone will benefit from the tourism industry if properly harnessed and organized, said Anago.