CRIME AND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria is sitting on a tourism goldmine, which is as rich if not richer than oil. The tourism industry boasts of potentials capable of generating significant investments toward economic development (Kraal, 1993). In spite of enormous opportunities for wealth creation, growth of national income, foreign exchange earnings, labour intensive employment opportunities, government revenue and improved standard of living of people in general that abound in the tourism sector, the contribution of tourism to economic development in Nigeria leaves much to be desired. It is regrettable that despite strong evidence that the tourism sector has good potentials for socio-economic development, these have not yet been fully realized in the country. It is true that Nigeria has been generating revenue from the tourism sector, however, such revenue generated is highly insignificant compared to the potential the industry has.
The fact that tourism in Nigeria has not got to the expected height is attributed to several factors. Due to her record of political instability and security challenges, she attracts low rate of international tourists. To get the best from our tourism resources and potentials as a country the time has come to recreate ourselves as a tourism destination. In doing so, there are certain critical factors that must be upheld as irreducible minimums. These include the push and pull factors which account for what motivate tourists in their choices of destination. Security is now an important motivation for travel. Today many scholars in the tourism industry advocate that being safe on holiday is an expected requirement for any visitor in a tourist destination. However it has been observed that places that develop an unsafe reputation can be substituted by alternative destinations that are perceived as safer for tourists. Many people are of the opinion that any tourist destination must offer certain facilities and services such as accommodation and security (Crompton, 1979 and Krippendorf, 1987).
Tourism is sensitive to insecurity. The performance of the tourism industry is highly sensitive to rising crime whether real or perceived. Therefore safety and security are vital to providing quality in tourism. They play major role in making travel choices. The success or failure of a tourism destination depends on being able to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors. It is true that when the environment is safe, the visitors are also safe and if the tourism industry emphasizes security, it will have a good chance of surviving. Though it is true that only a minority of tourists suffer criminal victimization while on holiday, it is important to explore variations in the crime experiences of different tourists. It is observed that crime patterns vary according to factors such as the nature of tourism, its scale, and the type of development, the season, as well as variations relating to the tourists themselves and issues associated with their behaviour.
Cross River State, especially Calabar the state capital has witnessed as increase in tourist arrivals owing to its geographical location and the presence of both natural and manmade attraction. It is observed that increase in tourist arrivals in a particular destination often leads to increase in crime situation ranging from robbery, assault and murder, to kidnapping and burglary (Shaw and Mckay, 1972). Crime rates typically increase with the growth and urbanization of an area, and growth of mass tourism is often accompanied by increased crime. The presence of a large number of tourists with a lot of money to spend, and often carrying valuables such as cameras and jewelries, increases the attraction for criminals and brings with it activities like robbery and drug dealings. Today, most streets within the hotspot locations where these industries are located are prone to high crime rates such that most tourists and residents found themselves being robbed and their belongings taken away. The presence of large number of tourists has led to changes in the social behaviour of youth and these often lead to gangsterism and other social vices. This view applies in the case of Calabar metropolis which have witnessed in recent times due to increased tourism activities, the rise of the Scolombo boys, a dangerous and mindless gang constituted by destitute or street boys and girls. They have been accused of looting shops, snatching handbags, and engaging in other criminal activities leaving residents, investors and tourists in fear. Moreso, during the carnival event which comes up December every year, crime such as rape, assault, robbery seem to dominate the entire areas. In most cases, the major streets constitute a harbour for cultist, armed robbers and kidnappers. Apart from this, no adequate measures have been put in place to arrest the perpetrators of crime and even when security measures are provided, no proper documentation is made with respect to the types of crime and the victims. This forms the crux of this research with specific reference to the tourist activities in Calabar during and after the popular Calabar carnival.
There is a broad consensus that tourism development should be sustainable (WTO, 2004). The declaration by the United Nations of 2017 as the international year of sustainable tourism for development is a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability namely economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued. There is growing recognition that well-designed and well managed tourism can contribute to the three dimensions of sustainable development, to job creation and to trade. (Okoroafor, 1994 and Okoli, 1998). This declaration comes at a particularly important moment as the international community embraces sustainable development goals.
For many decades, successive governments have identified the need to diversify the economy and break the mono-product dependence on oil. Tourism no doubt is a veritable alternative to oil as a major revenue earner for the country. It is seen as a promising route towards boosting economic development (Common Wealth Currents, 1998). This underscores the timeliness of this research. The global economic meltdown and fallen prices of crude oil more than ever before, makes it imperative for alternative sources of revenue to be exploited. Tourism development ought to be one of the safeguards for a sustainable future in the event of an end of the crude oil mono-economic dependence.
Despite this recognition, the challenge now has been to convert the available potentials into a dynamic reality. For tourism industry to contribute significantly to economic development in Nigeria, just as it does to some economies, due regard should be given to the issue of safety and security. It is in this context that this study identifies lack of safety and incidence of crime as a more serious threat to tourism than any other negative factors. For the present government to succeed in its agenda of repositioning the tourism sector as a major contributor to the economy of Nigeria, tackle the lackluster performance in the industry, it has to pay attention to issues that have been overlooked by previous regimes.
Today, there is a growing concern among scholars that crime and disruptions in tourism destinations have made the hospitality industry more hostile than hospitable. Thus, as the importance of the tourism industry is recognized namely the revenue resulting for the host country, the possibility of any negative consequences such as the development of crime behaviour should also be pointed out.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Tourism is expected to foster economic growth through foreign exchange earnings and increase in state revenue and at a second level, on the improvement in the people’s wellbeing in the areas of job creation, revenue and sustainable development (Nwidum, 2007). In 1995, tourism was responsible for over 100 million jobs world-wide and from 2005 onward, the figure was expected to increase to 300 million (Sheldon, 1997). However as observed by Etuk (2012), the performance of Nigeria in the tourism sector is still very poor when compared with the scorecards of other countries. In a country like Zimbabwe, tourism is the largest contributor to the G.D.P after manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Other countries like Kenya, South Africa and Gambia have impressive performance than Nigeria. Although many factors can be understood to threaten the development of tourism in Nigeria, such as infrastructural.