BreakingNews 10/4/16: Religious tourism will boost forex in Nigeria -Stakeholders

[ Masterweb Reports: Tai Anyanwu reports ] - The Federal Government has been urged to consider encouraging religious tourism as a major source of foreign exchange earner even as the country seeks to diversify her economy.


Stakeholders in the tourism industry told Sunday Telegraph, that to underestimate the sector’s foreign exchange earning potential would only amount to loss of the needed income. Similarly, an international travel advisor, John Parker in a recent review recommended that it was time for Nigeria to develop her religious tourism potentials.


Accordingly investigations by Sunday Telegraph revealed that over two million religious tourists visit Nigeria to take part in special spiritual revival programmes and annual conventions by different churches.


Our correspondent learnt that prior to the collapse of its guest house in September 2014 in which 115 people died; Prophet T B Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) alone attracted more than a million pilgrims to Lagos yearly.


The Manager of Phonix Pilgrims Hotel in the church’s vicinity, Paul Ogbeide, noted that since T B Joshua resumed ministering after his retreat following the tragic incident, religious tourists from across the world especially from African, Asia and Europe, and even America are coming back in their thousands to attend the weekly deliverance service at the SCOAN.


“From Thursdays, our rooms are fully booked by foreign visitors who stay for one week to one month while those visiting from different parts of Nigeria stay about two days.


“Aside hospitality operators, these religious tourists affect the livelihood of many people positively and various sectors benefit from their financial resources,” Ogbeide explained.


A resident, King David Efiong, who makes a living by connecting visitors with hoteliers, added that banks, currency changers and market men and women in Ikotun and its environs also depended solely on these religious tourists for survival.


His words: “Eatery operators in the vicinity do swift business by taking food stuffs on credit from sellers in Ikotun market, cook and after sales pay up the balance and make their own profit, because the church’s visitors provide constant patronage.”


Ogbeide, however, recalled that the tragic incident of September 2014 had brought the bubbling Ikotun market to a standstill due to loss of patronage. “The number of church visitors, who come with dollars, euros, pounds and other foreign currencies to enrich the local economy has reduced drastically.


“Many hoteliers converted their guest houses to residential apartments because they thought that government would seize the church. But today, it is a case of different strokes for different guest house operators as only a few who kept hope alive are now smiling back to the banks; as normalcy gradually returned to SCOAN,” he said.

html add here