1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Tourism is a rapidly growing phenomenon and has become one of the largest industries in the world. The impact of tourism varies extremely. On one hand, it plays an important and certainly positive role in the socio economic and political development in destination countries by, for instance, offering new employment opportunities. Also, in certain instances, it may contribute to a broader cultural and understanding by creating awareness, respecting the diversity of cultures and ways of life. On the other hand, it is a tool to create jobs. Tourism has been a major driver of socio-economic development in Western society; it is an alternative strategy for sustainability and diversification of economy for important policy of a good government.
In recent times, tourism is one of the largest industries that have contributed to the socio-economic growth of many countries especially countries where tourism is the mainstay of her economy, World Tourism Organization (WTO, 1998; cited in Ejaetal, 2012 and Ojo, 2014). Despite the fact that that industry is a vehicle for promoting cultural exchange that enhances international understanding and goodwill among the diverse peoples of the world, it is also a catalyst for enhancing many country destination employment opportunities, foreign exchange and infrastructural facilities (ESCAP, 2002; cited in Ejaetal, 2012).
The development of tourism as a critical sector of the economy has gradually assumed a centre stage in the economic agenda of most nations of the world. In the past few decades, international attention on tourism as a critical sector of the economy has greatly increased. This is in view of its capacity to quickly stimulate income growth, generate foreign exchange and contribute to domestic earnings of government through fees and taxes (Vanguard Newspaper, June 24, 2011). The interest in tourism by the Nigeria’s government started way back in the 1960s with the Obasanjo’s regime in 1976 establishing the Nigeria Tourism Board (NTB) now Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) via Decree No. 54 of 1976 reviewed to Decree No. 86 of 1991 and giving it a ‘preferred sector’ status respectively. Master Plan on tourism development in Nigeria started in 1982 with a tourism development policy first rolled out in 1990. To further consolidate the quest for quality service delivery in the tourism industry, the government created the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture to actualize the dream of catching up with the global train in tourism development (Munzali, 2011).
Tourism has always been regarded as a means of economic modernization, but has not been seriously considered as a means of social and cultural modernization. The concept of socio-economic modernization emphasizes improvements in various indicators, including improvement in living conditions and the quality of life and well-being of populations (Owan, 2012).According to Boo (1992), tourism has recently been assumed as the world largest employer of labour and most safe of all the industries with regards to atmospheric pollution. Tourism has been describe by Cross (1998) as an industry of globalization which has witnessed people of different nations. As this happens, new friendships are established, interpretation of cultural differences resulting in greater tolerance occur, and global diversities are better appreciated and understood. Thus, the emergence of a synthetic global culture has been largely predicted since 1956 to become a reality (UNESCO, 2007).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Although tourism plays an important role in the economy of some countries, tourism in Africa continent is yet to reach its full economic maturity (Nwosu, 2002). It has been observed that tourism in Nigeria still suffers from neglect because the local, state and federal governments of Nigeria are still indifferent to tourism development despite the preferred status accorded the accorded the sector (Edun, 2009). Based on this, Nigeria as a country has several potentials that have not been given attention.
Ekiti state is a state in the country endowed with a vast land of tourist attraction which visitors will find intriguing and captivating. According to Ayodele (2002), resources such as beautiful climate with good sunshine, pleasant beach fronts, cultural values and historic potentials abound; but for varied reasons, these potentials are neither fully exploited nor turned to good advantage. Various tourist attractions and most species of flora and fauna adapted to the state are threatened not withstanding their economic importance. Few of these sites have only being a recreation center with array of flora, fauna and tourism features that have being neglected; while most are yet to be discovered and developed.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to assess the benefit of hospitality and tourism industry in the socio-economic development of Ekiti state. Specific objectives of the study are:
1. To explore tourism potentials of Ekiti state.
2. To examine the challenges facing hospitality and tourism industry of Ekiti state.
3. To assess the socio-economic impact of hospitality and tourism industry in Ekiti state.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In-order to guide the study and achieve stated objectives above, the following research questions were formulated for the study:
1. What are the tourism potentials of Ekiti state?
2. What are the challenges facing the hospitality and tourism industry of Ekiti state?
3. What is the socio-economic impact of hospitality and tourism on the Ekiti state?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
Ho: There is no significant impact of hospitality and tourism on the socio-economic development of Ekiti state.
Hi: There is a significant impact of hospitality and tourism on the socio-economic development of Ekiti state.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Nigeria as a nation is endowed with both natural and material resources that can be harnessed to aid the economic development of the country by providing revenue and foreign exchange. Tourism plays significant roles in socio economic development of many nations if properly managed and harnessed.
This paper brings to light the tourism potentials of Ekiti state, challenges and impact of hospitality and tourism on the socio-economic development of Ekiti state. The paper will aid policy makers in various institutions and machineries of government to take informed decisions on matters concerning hospitality and tourism in the state.
The paper will also serve as a foundation for other student researchers who have interest in furthering their research studies on the subject matter.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study will cover the benefits of hospitality and tourism in Ekiti state from 2005-2015. The ministry of Culture and Tourism will serve as the case study for the study.
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Tourism: This refers to travel for pleasure; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours.
Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
Socio-Economic: relating to or concerned with the interaction of social and economic factors.
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