The managing director of DubaiAfrika, a Nigerian luxury tourism & lifestyle brand, Tolu Adesanmi, in this interview with LEADERSHIP explains the opportunities available in Nigeria’s tourism industry and investors can take advantage of them.
What are the business opportunities embedded in the Nigeria’s tourism industry?
The tourism industry is very huge with lots of opportunities in it. We have millions of local and international tourism destinations around the world, all that needs to be done is to create value to all these destinations, create a package that people will want to buy into, or do other things like investing in hospitality around tourist attractions, shortlets, catering services around tourist attractions. One can become a p rofessional tour guide and so on. There are lots of business opportunities in the tourism industry.
What are the challenges in running tourism business in Nigeria?
The Nigerian tourism industry is stereotyped, people feel the tourism industry is filled with scammers, so most clients are already bias even before patronising one. This could be a major challenge.
Also, let us take a look at the issue of refund. Most clients don’t understand that there are always refund policy when it comes to travel industry. Refund can take a while, let’s say 14 working days. But surprisingly, some clients will rather want their refund instantly and probably start calling you a fraud or threatening to arrest you with police or swearing to go and call you out online. All these makes the industry really challenging.
Specifically, in my own business, in the past seven years of running and managing the brand DubaiAfrika, we have had series of challenges peculiar to running a business in Nigeria. Sometimes, it could be difficult clients that could go any length to damage your brand for reasons totally out of the control of the company.
How can investors in the business navigate through the industry despite the turbulence in the economy?
I will advise that investors evolve constantly, no matter the challenges whether due to government’s policies or natural occurrences. In my own business, we have been able to stay on track using this strategy. We keep re-strategising by creating new ways to make things work in our favour. We create solutions for all turbulent situations encountered by constantly navigating through it all. Our strategy is always to prioritise all customers. No matter their request, we treat them as special, and also, we ensure we don’t cut corners. We deliver what is paid for. We also try to always create unique deals, something fresh all the time.
What motivated you to set up this type of business?
My motivation was my desire to be an entrepreneur, but I chose to focus on tourism after my trip to Dubai in search of green pastures. I saw how tourism was a major drive in Dubai and I took interest in it. Luckily, I later met a foreign partner who owns a tourism outfit in Dubai. We started talking on how we can do something in Nigeria, that was how I got into tourism business, although I started with many other business ideas which failed along the line. I decided to take advantage of the fact that tourism is a huge industry and I decided to explore and carve a niche in the world of luxury tourism.
My brand, DubaiAfrika is not just into international tours, we do local tourism and entertainment as well. We sell local destinations to tourists worldwide, this enables inward cashflow into the Nigeria’s economy.
What advice do you have for the young ones who may want to venture into tourism business?
I think the main advice is for then to be reliable and honest, they should be trustworthy and be contented with profits and not misappropriate clients’ payment for services.
Sometimes you might get paid one million naira and your profit is just fifty thousand naira, if you are greedy, you may be tempted to abscond with the full payment. Also, young entrepreneurs should constantly improve on their self-development, because the world is changing almost daily.