By Mashe Umaru Gwamna

Recently, a survey by Digital 2020 reports, indicated that over 5billion people around the world are using mobile phones- and additional 4.57 billion people are using internet. The survey while looking at social media platforms revealed that active social media users like- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,Whatsup others social media handle have over 3.8billion.

Statistically, report from
the NigerianCommunication Commission (NCC) released in January 2020 says Nigeria has over 185.76 million mobile phone subscribers and 2.5 million active social media users.

This numerous wide range of subscribers in Nigeria has post a better opportunities for digital tourism in the country.

The growth of internet access and the entry of smartphones into everyday life has provided a revolutionary way for consumers to interact with businesses throughout the tourist industry.

As a result, numerous companies, government agencies, private organizations and individuals should utilize the techniques and concepts to designed to communicate directly with potential clientele all over the world .

Moreso, the rise of the internet in the field of tourism produces a transformation in the tools used in the supply of destinations.

It increases its attractiveness and increases the power of competitiveness of tourism destinations and companies.
Likewise, the promotion uses photographic images as a background to disseminate, inform, disseminate and sometimes attract people to mediated landscapes in photographic images.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit and touch deeply into human parts of tourism . Every aspect of tourism ecosystems such as transportation, Hospitality, Entertainment has been devastated.

Based on this, digital tourism has to come to rescue the old traditional method of marketing Nigerian destinations. Digitization has gone beyond traditional brochures, flyers, leaflets to the online technology currently making waves.

The Technological market is vast, with presence of over 98million people. This number is more than the present physical business.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has about 98.9million internet users, meaning that the internet market place cannot be neglected-and with Nigeria having 95% of mobile fastest connections from 2019, the spread is growing tremendously and maximizing the opportunities in digital tourism cannot be overlooked.

Also, with the COVID -19 pandemic, countries in around the world are facing economic melt down and struggling to survived, looking for innovative ways to restart their recovery after 3months of lockdown.

While speaking on the challenges posed by the coronavirus, the Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corpration (NTDC), Folorunsho Coker, said
“We can see that expensive and glamorous are not selling much right now. Hotels room services, spa, saloons, buffering are not all selling now.
This is the time to start perfecting the different strategies for economic survival in a post-COVID world.Tourism can be able to drive and fulfill a renewed national mandate.

“There is a present need “to consider and deploy innovative recovery solutions that are home grown and practical, tailor made for our specific environment and people. They are in three policy thrusts: Healing for the people, healing for prosperity and healing for destinations (to preserve) health, employment and the environment.”
This is a sector that has given considerable thought to the guidelines for safety and recovery in the sector, as the country’s tourism head honcho.

“In Nigeria our film industry is the least untapped, today we have about 53 cinema houses, and with less than 200 screens with a population of 200million people. We need a thousand cinema houses and at least 6,000 screens.
Last year, we made about $51millions dollar in our music. Our fashion is growing but the beauty of this creative industry is that it employs more people more than any other sector apart from Agriculture and the people that it employs are largely women and youth . This means the Creative industry will be the next oil and gas in the nearest future,”he emphasized

Coker, further stressed that the 5-point action plan initiative called CHIEF, is to grow the industry and build a foundation for an attractive destination industry for domestic and international tourists.

He said the NTDC is the main vehicle for achieving the mission, that is why the agency has a massive vision of championing the need to re-strategies and modernize the tourism marketing by using digital tools as market to promote Nigeria’s brands and market the country’s attractions.

“We have to accept that the dynamics of tourism marketing has changed and then proceed to embrace it.”

The NTDC boss who is loaded with digital ideas, affirmed that the digital tourism which is a new technology provided by the social media has the capacity of reaching millions in one single message.

The tourism mogul stated that tourism is a quick starter for post -COVID-19 disaster recovery especially in Nigeria .

With the global economic meltdown, he said tourism has a huge market that will initiate useful digital tool for recovery.

“Right now, our entertainment and hospitality have become our selling points, and with that, we can create our niche market.

‘‘Our fashion and film industries under the entertainment are already known all over the world. We need to key into these markets and indentify the segment of the society shopping in that market.

“In Africa for instance, Rwanda used tourism for their recovery, the Americans during the 911 bomb blast used tourism as a tool useful for recovery. Digital tourism will be a tool for recovery in Nigeria to boost our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With the tour Nigeria project, NTDC has created a brand called “Tour Nigeria brand and the sub brand Nigeria Flavours”.
The agency is using that platform as a tool to encourage stakeholders to use digital tools to market tourism products”.

He reiterated that “the ‘Tour Nigeria’ project, has driven domestic consumption of tourism assets and products in Nigeria; create new channels of tourism markets as well as generated employment. The brand has restored hope and excitement amongst Nigerians exploring limitless domestic tourism products in the country.
“Also, the ‘Nigerian flavour’ initiatives have showcased the diverse gastronomy of Nigeria and promoted Abuja as a destination for fun, hospitality, and relaxation.”

He further explained that in as much as other destinations are screaming that Nigerians are no more coming out for tourism, he said in as much as he is happy that Nigerians are staying at home now, he encouraged them to embrace and tap their own digital tourism market to sell their products under NTDC brand.
“Now is the best time for us to consume, patronise and appreciating what we do and what we produce. These include; Nigerian food, Nigerian drinks, Nigerian music, among others.
“It will go a long way if we consume and appreciate what we do, this will contribute in restructuring our GDP during this pandemic.

Speaking on the challenges that lies ahead, the NTDC boss in a video issued recently said “ Iam now encouraging Nigerians to understand the recession challenges. Don’t ask for what Nigeria can do for you but what you can do for Nigeria now.
People daily recalled that Coker in June 2019 said that the messaage and the idea behind “Nigerian Flavours and Initiative of Tour Nigeria” is to consume and make use of what the country has and what it produced.

He said the main thing is that this event brings together a market for people who would otherwise have sold their wares and generated revenues for the backbones industries.
“It may be big, small hotels, restaurants, among others. Everybody is a stakeholder in the tourism industry. It is high time we began to tour Nigeria. It may be local governments, states like plateau, Kaduna, Cross Rivers, among others. The country is blessed with tourist sites -explore it.

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