Full Project – Rural tourism development and economic diversification in Nigeria
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. In both developed and developing countries, tourism is frequently supposed to be a viable means of raising the economic activity of regions. Additionally, the development of a tourism industry has been noted to promote the destination’s image, enabling the region to achieve other objectives, such as business recruitment and retention.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism generates 12% of the global gross national product and it employs around 200 million people worldwide. Tourist arrivals are estimated to reach 1 billion by 2010 and 1.6 billion by 2020 worldwide.
Declining economic activity, restructuring of the agricultural sector, dwindling rural industrialisation and out-migration of higher educated youth, has led to
the adoption, in many western nations, of tourism as an alternative development strategy for the economic and social regeneration of rural areas (Pompl & Lavery,1993; Williams & Shaw, 1991; Hannigan, 1994a; Dernoi,1991; Wickens, 1999).
Top tourism destinations, particularly in developing countries, include national parks, wilderness areas, mountains, lakes, and cultural sites, most of which are generally rural. Thus tourism is already an important feature of the rural economy in these specific sites. It is self-evident that tourism will never come to dominate all rural areas, particularly in the developing world are vast swathes of rural areas for which tourism is not relevant for the foreseeable future. Between these two extremes are poor rural areas with some tourism potential, and an urgent need to develop whatever economic potential they have.
As many as 75% of the world’s poor live in the rural areas and more than one-third of rural areas are in arid and semiarid regions (Chaudhry and Gupta, 2010). It is in the context that rural tourism is identified as a tool for rural revitalization and economic diversification. An important question is whether more can be done to develop tourism within such rural areas, as a way of dispersing the benefits of tourism and increasing its poverty impact (Holland, et al., 2003). The aim of promoting tourism is to increase the net benefits to rural people, and increase their participation in managing the tourism product. It can also be to serve as a source of foreign exchange to the country thereby increasing its revenue base. If more tourism can be developed in rural areas, particularly in ways that involve high local participation in decisions and enterprises, then poverty impacts are likely to be enhanced. The nature of rural tourism products, often involving small-scale operations and culturally-based or farm-based products can be conducive to wide participation.
In less developed countries of sub-Saharan Africa, afflicted by debilitating rural poverty, tourism is perceived to be one of the few feasible options for development. Compelled by the pressures of restructuring, and driven by demands for economic growth and job creation, governments in developing countries however frequently fall prey to the dangers of random, ad hoc development, without due regard to the economic and cultural well-being of rural communities, the conservation of the environment or the inclusion of
local residents in decision-making (Britton, 1991; Drake, 1991; Evans & Ibery, 1989; Getz, 1983; Long, Perdue, & Allen, 1990; Marsden, 1992; Prentice, 1993).
Nigeria’s tourism landscape is extremely rich and beautiful for global tourist attraction; the weather, climate, vegetation, quality airspace, sunshine, beautiful scenery, the rock, falls, captivating beaches, historical relics, rich cultural diversity, friendly peoples and wildlife are Nigeria’s tourism assets. This makes Nigeria a leading tourism paradise in Africa. The World Trade Organization (WTO, 2014) noted that tourism and hospitality industry is one of Africa’s greatest but most under invested assets, with market worth $50billion, but has $203.7 billion of untapped potential which represents four times its current level. The Organization’s forecast for international tourist arrivals to Africa indicates that “there will be 77.3 million visitors in 2020. This represents an annual growth rate of 5.5% over the decade, which is above the global growth rate of 4.1%. Elsewhere it is estimated that Africa, together with Asia will contribute more than half of the projected growth in international visitation with 30% of that growth expected around the world, (Bichaka et al. 2007).
In Nigeria, the downstream economic impacts from the exports revenues of international tourists’ spending are estimated to generate additional annual gross revenue of $224m (N29b). Furthermore, the market share of emerging economies is not left out in this boom, increasing from 30% in 1980 to 47% in 2015, and is expected to reach 57% by 2030, equivalent to over 1billion international tourist arrivals (UN,WTO’s Long Term Forecast Tourism Towards 2030).
The above portends an alternative to oil dependent economy which may serve as one of the viable ways against global economic uncertainty with the volatility of oil price. The economy is characterised with monolithism, high level of abject poverty, unemployment and low productivity. According to Suberu et al (2015) Nigeria needs to break loose from the problems inherent in a mono-economy, especially one largely dominated by oil, which is subject to depletion, international price shocks and unfavourable quota arrangement, thus the need for diversification. Ajadi (2012) believed today Nigeria is experiencing rapid economic and population growth, which resulted in a series of mixed effects on its economy, social, and natural environment. Despite the numerous efforts engaged in, towards the improvement of the Nigerians living conditions, it is recognized that the country has several pressing issues to resolve, particularly in areas such as income inequality, unemployment, insecurity and crime and other societal challenges, hence Ajadi (2012) opined that tourism can play a vital role in the socio-economic development and promotion for Nigeria as one of the fastest growing economy in the world today. As a result, rural tourism can be employed as a viable tool for achieving optimum employment generation, steady rural – urban integration, revenue for the government and cultural exchange for internal and external understanding.
With relation to these arguments, it can be hypothesized that rural tourism could be promoted as a means of diversifying the Nigerian economy.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria’s rural communities, the rural population is large, poor, resilient and hardworking. An individual is a farmer, a hunter, and a trader depending on the season and economic situation he finds himself. His livelihood strategies can negatively impact on the ecosystem and tourism resources due to absolute poverty. There are also many beautiful types of scenery in the rural areas that cannot be brought to the cities, but are lying wasted and untapped.
The rural tourist centres are faced with the problems of maintenance as well as patronage of the foreigners due to inadequate awareness about the beautiful scenes of the rural tourist centres and the relaxation and satisfaction the tourists can derive from spending their leisure hours or holidays there. A tour of Owu falls in Owa Kajola in Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara state however depicts a counter scenario. The inhabitants live in abject poverty, while the potentials of the Owu fall as a tourist centre remains untapped.
Although, the place of Owu fall in the Nigerian history and the global map may not be hidden yet, its impact cannot be said to be felt either by the residents in their area or the state in terms of its expected economic contributions. The global question that comes to mind is: why is the situation so? And in its present form, could this centre actually serve as a source of economic development that could be depended on?
What are the potentials of Owu falls which the community and the country at large stand to gain?
What are the factors actually responsible for the present position of Owu fall in Kwara state?
What are the problems faced by the people of Owu in their daily economic activities?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The global objective of this study is to properly investigate the productive and income potentials of rural tourism centres in Nigeria, in their quest to serve as a way of diversifying the Nigerian economy.
The specific objectives of this study are:
identify the potentials of Owu falls which the community and the country at large stand to gain;
examine the factors responsible for the present position of Owu fall in Kwara state; and
examine the problems faced by the people of Owu in their daily economic activities; and
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study covers the areas covered by the research topic. This area included the Owu falls itself. This fall is located in Owa Kajola at Ifeodun local government area of Kwara state. The study also included the economic activities of the citizens of Owu and the challenges they face in their day to day activities. The study also focused on the infrastructural facilities (road network, water sources, communication system, etc) of the town which Owu falls is being located as well as the poverty and income level, starting from the beginning of the community to where Owu falls is being located.
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
Research hypothesis is a statement of the relationship among variables. The formulation of hypothesis helps the researcher in streamlining of the research questions and also guide the researcher in his/her quest for answers to the problem being investigated.
The research hypothesis for this study is as follows:
Ho: Rural tourism cannot be promoted as a way of diversifying the Nigerian economy.
H1: Rural tourism can be promoted as a way of diversifying the Nigerian economy.
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study contributes to the literature on the diversification of the Nigerian economy through rural tourism development by analysing the prospects and challenges faced by the communities in which the rural tourist centre is based, taking into account a case study of Owu falls in Ifelodun local government area in Kwara state. In particular, the study assesses the factors that can lead to the development of rural tourism by making use of an explorative method of analysis including focus group discussion as well as observation of the area of study. To my knowledge, this will indeed be one of the few studies that rigorously examine the drivers and factors that can lead to development of rural tourism in Nigeria, which will therefore serve as a pathway to economic diversification in Nigeria. The findings from my analysis are potentially important in providing decision makers in Nigeria with guidance on complementary policies that are needed to maximize the benefits from tourism, which can contribute to the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
1.8 ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY
The rest of the paper is structured into four chapters. Chapter two reviewed the related literature, chapter three contained the research methodology, chapter four contained the data analysis, interpretation and discussion of the results while chapter five has the conclusions and recommendations.
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Full Project – Rural tourism development and economic diversification in Nigeria