There is no gainsaying that road network connectivity, level of road accessibility and transport services developing nations are often poor and inadequate, yet, most of the cultural resources with which Nigeria is endowed are domiciled in the hinterlands. Developing these cultural resources into tourist attractions becomes problematic due to the abject condition of the link roads and lack of adequate means of transportation. This research is focused at investigating the transportation systems in Owerri municipal and the impact on tourism and leisure activities. Three communities were used for the study. The selection was based on the three senatorial zones in Imo State, and from the zones, the communities richer in cultural resources were chosen. Survey method was used to gather the primary data for which the questionnaire was the major instrument of research'. A total of 300 sets of questionnaire were administered to respondents in the three communities. In the findings, it was deduced that roads to the communities in Owerri are in a deplorable state coupled with lack of ready and comfortable means of transportation. All these have immensely affected tourist flow to the numerous cultural attractions in the area of study. It was also deduced that poor road condition was also responsible for the high cost of transportation. It was recommended that federal government should expunge the joint account policy between states and local governments so as to empower the later to handle their road construction and rehabilitation projects. A collaborative effort must exist between the host communities and their local governments as a condition for an uninterrupted development of their numerous cultural resources for tourism purposes.

Tourism is defined as the short-term movement of people from their usual place of residence (origin) to other places (destination) for the purpose of leisure and recreational activities without any intention of securing a permanent resident or job at the destination; Cooper and Boniface (2006). It is also seen as the science, art and business of attracting and transporting visitors, accommodating them and graciously catering for their needs and wants; Mentosh and Gupta (2008). Since the early 70s, tourism has grown to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world, ranking only after petroleum and auto trades. Tourism today plays a significant role in the balance of payment of many countries both in the developed and developing worlds. Tourism therefore, brings huge economic and social benefits to many nations, especially those that carefully plan and manage their potential attractions or resources (UNTWO, 2010). It has become the world’s largest growing industry, statistics by the world Tourism organizations shows that there are no signs of this growth slowing down in the next Millennium. To benefit from this global trend, tourism is been adopted by governments as a vehicle for poverty alleviation, employment generation and wealth creation. It is also seen as a veritable tool for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It is not in doubt that Nigeria is lavishly endowed with varieties of cultural resources which are mainly domiciled in the rural areas. The desire to witness cultural heritage like festivals, traditional architecture, monuments, arts and crafts, historic sites, shrines etc, has formed a major motivation for cultural tourism in recent times. Richards (2011) defined cultural tourism as the movement of persons to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence, with the intention to gather new information and experience to satisfy their cultural needs. It is a fact that all forms of tourism, world over cannot thrive in isolation from transport, which provides the link amid the dwelling and destination regions of tourists. Yet, because the cultural resources are domiciled mostly in the rural locations, the need for transport becomes even more important. In the view of tourism professionals, transportation is an integral part of tourism which serves as a means of tourists' displacement from origin to the destination and other surrounding attractions. Hence, Hall (1991) highlights that there is a strong positive correlation between transport development and tourism growth. This implies that improvement in transport has a direct impact on tourism. It was gathered from the historical development of tourism that the key technical transformation in the transportation system industry brought about by the industrial revolution, marked the beginning of tourism. During this period in history, massive modifications of transport system were recorded which gave rise to the exploration of new lands to satisfy cultural needs. Hobson and Uysal (1992:209) also testified that the major steps in the development of tourism have been linked with advancements in transport.

Prior to the decision to travel to any destination, certain transport needs must be fulfilled, including safety and easy access to tourist destinations. The ability to connect attractions and carry luggage comfortably, and at affordable cost must be certain. Collier (1994) in agreement to this assertion mentioned some of the tourist transport needs that must be fulfilled as:

• Transporting the tourist from the generating to the host area

• Transport between host destinations

• Transport within host destinations

The need for effective transport to cultural attractions is not limited to tourists alone. During festival celebrations, for instance, indigenes of the host communities residing in the urban cities and aboard visit home. Besides, some invited guests like friends, well-wishers and business associates contribute to the population of the crowd moving towards the host community. Also included in the number are the service providers who provide convenience and comfort to the tourists. On this note, Okoli and Igbojekwe (2014), maintained that the quality of the transportation system is an important aspect of the traveler's experience. In their own view, poor service, scheduling problems, and or long delays associated with transportation service could seriously affect a passenger's perception and lead to regrets about a trip. Tourists expect to be transported safely, quickly and comfortably at moderate costs to their destinations before a trip could be termed memorable (Nwankwo, 2005). Various countries in Asia have also considered improving tourists transportation using tour buses instead of road transport. In Hong Kong, most tourists use trains that are managed by specific organizations. But there are also special buses for tourists that are called tour buses. These buses are not managed by the government but they are owned by the government but they are designated for tourists only.

According to Howe and Bryceson (2000) tourists transportation has been a challenge in many African countries. Popular transport for tourists used to be road transport in most of African countries. But this started to change in 1980s where some organizations tour sites operated tour buses for tourists.

Most public tour sites in African countries have no tour buses. Tourists use public buses and other means of transport. These tourists are facing many challenges including arriving late to tour site and rough treatments from bus conductors. These challenges are not bothering tourists who use tour buses within same countries (ibd).

Tour buses are chosen because generally tour buses and other special buses for tourists are considered to be safer than other public buses. Considering how many tourists the buses carry and the distance they cover, deaths on the road are extremely rare. Tour buses in America have a rate of 0.2 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The rate of deaths in other automobiles transport is eight times higher. Statistics provides a good way of comparing risks involved. In a period of 11 years, from 1994-2004, a total of 71 passengers on tour buses died in crashes. But in one year, 2004 alone, traffic accidents killed 31,693 people traveling in cars and light trucks in America (Forkenbrock, 2004).

In Nigeria, Imo state residents travel under difficult conditions from one part of the city to another. Available information shows that daily travel in the city is facing many difficulties. These difficulties include the split between residential areas and places of work or areas where people get services, expansion of urbanized area and deficient transport system. As a result of these factors, transport remains to be a critical need for city residents (Sliuzas, 2001).

Werlin (1999) explain that generally lack of adequate transport system, is potential to create complicated daily life by making access to various destinations and services difficulty for majority of people especially the poor. Privileged section of the population has access to good transport infrastructure but on the other hand, the low income population is facing poor urban road transportation.

Rural transport is considered as a vital component of the system of services necessary for the continuing existence of a dispersed settlement in less densely populated areas (Tolley and Turton 1995). More so, in most developing countries, the road is the principal mode available, while the rail and inland waterway transport generally play little or no role within rural areas. Considering the nature of cultural tourism, the location of cultural attractions leaves the travelers with no other choice than the road transport. Yet, the overall road network connectivity, level of road accessibility and transportation services is generally poor and inadequate. The situation is so pathetic that they are highly deprived of infrastructural facilities like smooth tarred roads, adequate drainage system, sufficient road networks and transportation means. The most problematic is the poor physical condition of the rural roads. It was alleged that even up till 1960, other parts of Africa excluding the Southern part have less than 5 percent of their roads tarred, with large proportion of their minor feeder roads still existing as tracks. The condition in the communities in Owerri is so bad that a good number of the rural roads can only be managed during the dry season, when the rains are over.

Governments at all levels have not demonstrated adequate effort in the repair and general maintenance of the roads, and this amounts to a domino effect on vehicle maintenance cost and transport fares (Adesanya, 1997). Adeniji (1983), further posits that this level of insensitivity could be as a result of the low volume of traffic and periodicity, as well as seasonality in demand for transport in rural areas. Furthermore, Aderamo and Magaji (2010) expressed some fears that the solution cannot be at sight so long as the local government remains underfunded. Under this situation, most rural roads remain unpaved, narrow, circuitously aligned, and with pot holes, thereby leaving them impassable until dry season reappears. According to Ifegbo (2021), majority of festivals in Igbo land take place during the raining season, when most of the rural roads are in their worst conditions. This has remained a challenge to the respective stakeholders

i.e. the government at all levels, tourism planners and the transport industry and until a remarkable improvement is made, tourism development will remain a dream.

Such inadequate and unreliable transport in Imo state is also experienced by tourists. The tourists also need transport every day to go to various tourists destinations and back. It is common in Imo state to see many tourists stranded at bus stands for long time waiting for transport. But there are other tourists who use special tour buses. This group may not be experiencing the same transport impact as their fellows who use public means (Nyirenda, 2012). This study examined the impact of peace transit on tourism and leisure activities in Imo state.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Tourist attraction in Imo state is growing. According to Mjingo (2011), there are about 10,000 tourists in the city who need transport to go to tour site and travelling back home. But the safety of travelling for these tourists, most of them rely on the erratic road transport system, which is at stake most of the time. Mjingo (2011) also reports that Imo state has about 12 tourist sites.

But most of these tour sites have no proper transport arrangements for their tourists. University of Imo state (2008) observed that the tourists travel to various tour sites and back home with a lot of difficulty. When travelling from the outskirts of the city to their respective tour sites, tourists face the inconvenience of commuting unreliable road transport. This means that the future of transport system for tourists who use road transport system in Imo state is uncertain.

But on the other hand, University of Imo state (2008) argues that some road transport systems like peace transit have an orderly way of transporting both tourists and citizens within and out of the city, these public transits although expensive, provide safe and comfortable movement giving tourism a positive effect as the problem of transportation is reduced Those who use tour buses are mainly those attending private tour sites in the city. This group is privileged with less difficulty in travelling compared with their fellows who use road transport system. One would wonder what happened to tourists who face such transport challenges both personally and in their social activities. At the same time one would want to know what are the benefits enjoyed by tourists who use tour buses to travel over those who use road transport system. This study examined the impact of road transport system on the tourism development of primary tourists in Imo state.

1.3 Research Objectives
1.3.1 General Research Objective
The general objective of the study was to assess the transportation system in Owerri and the impact on tourism and leisure activities in Imo state.

1.3.2 Specific Research Objectives

Specific objectives of the study were as follows:

• To assess the current system of road transport used by tourists in Owerri Municipal.

• To assess the impact of transportation on tourism in Imo state.

• To examine coping strategies that are used by tourists to deal with challenging road transport system in Imo state.

1.4 Research Questions
1.4.1 General Research Question

What are the transportation system in Owerri municipal and it’s impact on tourism and leisure activities in Imo state?

1.4.2 Specific Research Questions

• What is the current system of road transport used by tourists in Owerri Municipal?

• What is the impact of transportation on tourism in Imo state?

• What are the coping strategies that are used by tourists to deal with challenging road transport system in Imo state?

1.5 Significance of the Research
The study contributes towards the on-going discussions and initiatives taken by various stakeholders towards providing reliable transport to tourists. The study also adds on information about the impact of poor transport system on tourism peace transit owners will use the available information to up their management of their transport systems, passenger treatment and proper management of their vehicles.

Tourism organizers in Ebony will have a second look into the transport sector as a major factor in setting up a tourist event, as it will involve transporting tourists around

This study provides information on the impact of those challenges on tourists‟ tourism development especially in Imo state.

1.6 Scope of the Study
In order to understand the impact of peace transit on tourism and leisure activities of tourists in Imo state, the study assessed type of challenges faced by tourists and their impact on the tourism. Peace transit was used as the case study

1.7 Organization of the Study
The study has five chapters that present introduction and background of the research in chapter one, literature review of ideas and arguments from various authors related to the subject in chapter two, followed by chapter three that discussed research methodology that was followed on the research work. Chapter four presents study findings and analysis of the findings. Chapter five presents summary conclusions and recommendations.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 55 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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