By Taiye Olayemi
Lagos, Nov. 17, 2020 Some tourism stakeholders have called on operators to explore digital marketing for speedy recovery of the sector post COVID-19 pandemic.
The stakeholders made the call at the 2020 Assocation of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) seminar on Tuesday in Lagos.
The theme of the seminar was: ”Post-COVID-19: Recovery Strategies for Hospitality and Tourism Sector in Nigeria.”
Mr Folorunsho Coker, Director-General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), said the industry must adopt new ways of doing tourism business considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coker, represented by Mr Aiyetan Olurotimi, Lagos Office Coordinator, said that tourism business would thrive better by exploring digital technology and other social media platforms to market the sector.
He said that for success in business transactions, efforts should be intensified by showcasing tourists attractions digitally to attract visitors.
The NTDC boss urged practitioners to intensify efforts at training themselves on the use of innovative technologies to execute businesses.
“Most business outfits need to review their rates or prices to encourage their lost customers and remain in business rather than close outrightly.
“For instance, hoteliers may give free day or complementary service to encourage the use of their conference halls or other infrastructure that have been abandoned due to COVID-19 government regulations,” Coker said.
Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), also urged operators to digitalise their operations as many relied on digital connectivity and virtual promotional campaigns to boost tourism recovery.
Kangiwa, represented by Mrs Chinyere Uche-Ibeabuchi, Lagos Office Coordinator, said there was need to diversify into niche product offerings that catered for the circumstances the pandemic presented.
“Embracing digital technological options such as virtual strategies, online offerings to showcase and market destinations and experiences to stimulate demand and address a wider target audience, will be a crucial component of a future tourism recovery strategy for Nigeria.
“Some countries are already upscaling the designation of special tourism resorts or lodges as quarantine zones into post-COVID-19 retreat packages.
“Maldives, for instance, are using their unique, contained island geographical configuration to offer exclusive resort or island retreats for travellers.
“Others, such as Antigua and Barbuda, are converting hotel accommodation into self-catering options to allay travellers’ fears of virus transmission,” he said.
Kangiwa said it was essential to initiate strong marketing and promotional campaigns both locally and internationally, adding that promoting flexible services would be another strategic tool to attract potential customers.
“Hotels might need to offer flexible prices, cancellation policies, flexible work environment, all these would be beneficial in achieving long term sustainability of the hospitality business industry,” he said.
Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), also stressed the importance of engaging the digital space in marketing tourism.
Mr Ikechi Uko, Organiser, AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market, said stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industries should encourage collaborations to ensure money flows through the various value chains.
He also said stakeholders should ensure that all COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols were adhered to during physical meetings to guide against another spike in the country.