CRIME AND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN NIGERIA
1.1 Introduction to the Research
Nigeria is sitting on a tourism goldmine that is as valuable as, if not more valuable than, oil. The tourism business has the potential to generate considerable economic development investments (Kraal, 1993).
Despite the fact that the tourism sector offers enormous opportunities for wealth creation, growth of national income, foreign exchange earnings, labour intensive employment opportunities, government revenue, and an overall improved standard of living, tourism's contribution to economic development in Nigeria leaves much to be desired.
It is unfortunate that, despite clear evidence that the tourism sector offers good socioeconomic development potential, these have not yet been completely realised in the country. True, Nigeria has produced cash from the tourist sector; nonetheless, such revenue is tiny in comparison to the industry's potential.
Several reasons have contributed to the fact that tourism in Nigeria has not reached its full potential. She has a low rate of international tourists due to her history of political instability and security challenges. To maximise our tourist resources and potential as a country, it is time to reinvent ourselves as a tourism destination.
Certain crucial factors must be maintained as irreducible minimums in this process. These include the push and pull elements that determine what motivates tourists to choose a destination. Security is now a major motivator for travellers.
Today, many tourism academics argue that staying safe on vacation is an expected necessity for each visitor to a tourist location. However, it has been noted that sites that have a risky reputation might be replaced by alternative tourist destinations that are believed to be safer. Many individuals believe that any tourist site must provide certain amenities and services, such as lodging and security (Crompton, 1979; Krippendorf, 1987).
Tourism is vulnerable to insecurity. The tourism industry's performance is very sensitive to increased crime, whether real or imagined. As a result, safety and security are critical components of offering excellence in tourism. They have a significant influence in making travel decisions.
The ability to create a safe and secure environment for guests determines a tourism destination's success or failure. True, when the environment is safe, visitors are safe, and if the tourism business emphasises security, it will have a strong chance of survival.
Though it is true that only a minority of tourists are criminally victimised while on vacation, it is crucial to investigate differences in the crime experiences of various travellers. It has been noticed that crime patterns differ depending on factors such as the nature of tourism, its magnitude and style of growth, the season, as well as differences relating to tourists themselves and difficulties linked with their behaviour.
Because of its geographical location and the existence of both natural and manmade attractions, Cross River State, particularly Calabar, the state capital, has seen a surge in tourist visits. It has been noticed that an increase in tourist arrivals at a given area frequently leads to an increase in crime ranging from robbery, assault, and murder to kidnapping and burglary (Shaw and Mckay, 1972).
Crime rates often rise with an area's expansion and urbanisation, and the rise of mass tourism is frequently accompanied by an increase in crime. The presence of a big number of visitors with a lot of money to spend, and who are frequently carrying valuables such as cameras and jewelleries, boosts the appeal for criminals and carries with it crimes such as robbery and drug selling.
Today, most streets in the hotspot places where these enterprises are located have high crime rates, thus most tourists and residents have been robbed and their things stolen. The presence of a high number of tourists has resulted in changes in teenage social behaviour, which frequently leads to gangsterism and other social vices.
This viewpoint is applicable in the instance of Calabar, which has recently seen the growth of the Scolombo boys, a dangerous and thoughtless gang comprised of poor or street boys and girls, as a result of increased tourism activity. They have been accused of robbing shops, stealing purses, and engaging in other illegal actions that have terrified residents, investors, and tourists.
Furthermore, during the annual funfair event in December, crime such as rape, assault, and robbery seem to rule the entire neighbourhood. In most situations, large streets serve as a haven for cultists, armed robbers, and kidnappers. Aside from that, no suitable steps have been put in place to catch criminal criminals, and even when security measures are supplied, no proper record of the forms of crime and victims is created.
This is the focus of this study, with particular emphasis on tourist activities in Calabar during and after the famed Calabar funfair.
There is widespread agreement that tourist development should be long-term (WTO, 2004). The United Nations declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance the tourism sector's contribution to the three pillars of sustainability, namely economic, social, and environmental, while raising awareness of the dimensions of an often undervalued sector.
Tourism that is well-designed and well-managed may contribute to the three areas of sustainable development, job generation, and trade. Okoli (1998) and Okoroafor (1994). This proclamation comes at a critical juncture in the international community's embrace of sustainable development goals.
For decades, successive governments have recognised the need to diversify the economy and remove the country's reliance on a single product, oil. Tourism, without a question, is a viable alternative to oil as a key source of revenue for the country. It is regarded as a promising path to enhancing economic development (Common Wealth Currents, 1998). This emphasises how timely this research is.
The global economic catastrophe, along with falling crude oil prices, makes it more important than ever to pursue alternate revenue streams. Tourism development should be one of the protections for a sustainable future if the crude oil mono-economic dependence ends.
Despite this acknowledgement, the difficulty lately has been to translate the available potentials into a dynamic reality. To contribute significantly to economic development in Nigeria, as it does in other countries, the tourism industry must prioritise safety and security.
In this perspective, the report identified crime and a lack of safety as a more serious danger to tourism than any other negative element. To succeed in its aim of repositioning the tourist sector as a key contributor to the Nigerian economy and addressing the industry's poor performance, the current government must pay attention to concerns that previous regimes ignored.
Scholars are increasingly concerned that violence and interruptions in tourist places have rendered the hospitality business antagonistic rather than inviting. As the importance of the tourism business, specifically the cash generated for the host country, is recognised, the possibility of any negative impacts, such as the development of criminal activity, should also be highlighted.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Tourism is projected to stimulate economic growth through foreign exchange profits and an increase in state revenue, as well as to improve people's well-being in terms of job creation, revenue, and long-term development (Nwidum, 2007).
Tourism was responsible for about 100 million jobs worldwide in 1995, and this figure was predicted to rise to 300 million by 2005 (Sheldon, 1997). However, as Etuk (2012) remarked, Nigeria's performance in the tourist sector remains relatively bad when compared to other countries' scorecards.
In Zimbabwe, tourism is the third-largest contributor to GDP after industry and agriculture. Other countries, such as Kenya, South Africa, and Gambia, have outperformed Nigeria. Although numerous issues, such as infrastructure, might be perceived to constitute threats to the development of tourism in Nigeria.