Performance Assessment of Lokoja Confluence Beach as a Tourist Site in Kogi State, Nigeria  

Samuel Oluwaseyi Olorunfemi1 , Emmanuel Adebayo Adewunmi2
1. Department of Transport Management, School of Management Technology, Federal University of Technology, P.M.B. 704, Akure, Nigeria
2. Department of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Environmental Technology, Federal University of Technology, P.M.B. 704, Akure, Nigeria
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Marine Science, 2013, Vol. 3, No. 33   doi: 10.5376/ijms.2013.03.0033
Received: 05 May, 2013    Accepted: 03 Jun., 2013    Published: 02 Jul., 2013
© 2013 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Olorunfemi and Emmanuel, 2013, Performance Assessment of Lokoja Confluence Beach as a Tourist Site in Kogi State, Nigeria, International Journal of Marine Science, Vol.3, No.33 258-266 (doi: 10.5376/ijms.2013.03.0033)

Abstract

Beach tourism is a global phenomenon mainly in coastal areas of countries with unique and favorable shorelines. However, certain inland waterways serve same purpose of beach tourism. This research (as its objectives) exposes the condition of amenities, identifies associated socio-economic benefits and reveals problems confronting the Lokoja Confluence Beach in Kogi State, Nigeria. A survey design (with the aid of questionnaires and interview guide) was employed to obtain data from tourists, managers of the Confluence Beach and government officials at the State Tourism Board. Purposive sampling technique was adopted to select respondent tourists. Univariate analysis was employed to obtain relevant information from collated data. The research findings revealed the existence of a few functional amenities and some uncompleted facility projects; diverse economic benefits to residents; problems of petty crime, diversion of funds and poor sensitization. Recommendations include provision of supplementary funds by the three tiers of government, development of strategic policy on marketing/sensitization and provision of amenities for indoor games close to the beach front.

Keywords
Beach tourism; Confluence beach; Tourism potential; Lokoja; Nigeria

Tourism refers to the temporary movement of people away from their usual place of abode to another location for relaxation and leisure purpose (WTO, 2001; Bookman, 2006; Chiangand Song, 2008). In recent years tourism has become an important factor in the world trade and a major element in the balance of payment of many countries. For countries, regions, towns and villages which attract tourists in large numbers, tourism could be a driver for their socio-economic prosperity. Tourism generates wealth and employment. It is a major source of income and employment for individuals in many places endowed with natural resources which cannot readily contribute to the standard of living in an area, unless through the process or medium of tourism (Burkart and Medlik, 1974).

Several seminars, workshops and conferences have been held to discuss and assess the benefits of tourist development in Kogi state, Nigeria. However, the potentials of the Confluence Beach in the city of Lokoja for socio-economic development of the state and individuals have not been given much attention. Both government and the private sector have not harnessed the potential of the capital city, Lokoja (for tourist development); a potential inherent in the confluence nature of rivers Niger and Benue at this location. This is revealed by the lack of well-developed holiday resorts, thereby resulting in loss of revenue, which should accrue to the state in addition to improving the living standard of the residents. Apart from the existence of other natural tourist attractions within the state, the uniqueness of the Confluence Beach constitutes a great advantage to tourism development in the state and the nation at large. Water tourism is presently being developed by a neighbouring state, Ekiti but with specific focus on springs and waterfalls. Further development of the Confluence Beach in Kogi State will provide a blend of tourism activities within the region.
The aim of this study, therefore, was to assess the level of development of Lokoja Confluence Beach with a view to proffering workable solutions to the existing problems. To achieve this aim, objectives were set to examine the existing amenities at the beach, identify socio-economic benefits accruable to the people within the region and identify problems associated with the beach tourism prospects.
2 Abridged Literature Review
2.1 Tourism and economic development
Tourism is defined as “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one year for leisure, business and other purposes not related with the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited” (Olorunfemi and Raheem, 2008). Tourism always plays an important role in economic development of an area (Kammler and Schernewski, 2004). Tourism can have positive as well as negative effects on an area. The impacts depend on the kind of tourism developed in the tourist area and the volume and characteristics of the tourists (extent of stay, activity, type of transport, travel arrangement, type of facilities available, etc). Tourism is like export industries because it generates foreign exchange. However, unlike export industries, consumers have to travel to destinations to consume the products they purchase (for example going to a beach or a theme park in a different country; tourism products are generally location specific). It is also important to know that leakages take place as a result of capital flight.
The tourism industry is the largest industry in the world. The prominence of the industry in trade is quite widespread. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO, 2001), it ranks among the top five export categories for 83% of countries and is the prevailing source of foreign exchange earnings for not less than 38% of them. In 2002, international tourism increased by 3 percent to 715 million arrivals contrary to expectation as this was one of the most difficult times in recent tourism history (WTO, 2002). In 2001, for the first time in nearly 20 years, international tourist influxes actually declined by 0.6 percent. The drop reflected the impacts of both the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States of America, and the global economic meltdown. Generally, tourism- related spending accounted for some US $4.2 trillion of global economic activity in 2002 and represented 12% of total world exports, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Despite the employment slowdown, the activity generated an estimated 199 million jobs opportunity – one in every 13 jobs globally. Based on 2004 data, this was the largest industry in the world, with receipts from international tourism expenditure totalling US $474 billion in 2004 (WTO, 2005).
Receipts from international tourism in destinations around the world grew by 4% in 2012 reaching US$ 1.075 trillion (euro 837 billion) worldwide, up by 4% in real terms, from US$ 1.042 trillion (euro 749 billion) in 2011 (WTO, 2013). This growth is equal to the 4% increase in international tourist arrivals which reached 1.035 billion in 2012. An additional US$ 219 billion was recorded in receipts from international passenger transport, bringing total export earnings generated by international tourism in 2012 to US$ 1.3 trillion.
Tourism is very important for economic development of a nation, through its positive effects on employment, exports, spur of infrastructure provision, generation of revenue, and promotion of international cultural activities, peace and harmony. As observed by World Tourism Organization (WTO, 2001), tourism is able to contribute to a development which is economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable, because it has less impact on natural resources and the environment than most other industries. Thus, tourism plays a great role in promoting the principles of sustainable development.
Africa, and particularly Nigeria’s landscape, is spotted with natural tourist attractions that are comparable to the best in the world. This is perfected by her rich cultural and traditional heritage, which dates back to over two thousand years (FRN, 2004). It possesses distinctive tourist attractions, many of which are overland safaris (national parks and exotic game viewing), deep-sea recreational fishing, lake and river fishing, archaeological tours, beach resorts and hotels, exposition centres, coconut and palm groves, and recreational beaches lined with trees (Felix and Usman, 2008).
According to Butler (2006), in 2003, Nigeria received 2.4 million tourists. The largest contingents came from Niger (503,066), Benin (318,716) and Ghana (167,167). In 2002 tourism receipts totalled US$263 million. He further informed that the Nigerian government encouraged its citizens to visit tourism destinations while concerns existed regarding the quality of amenities and personal safety.
Emelike (2012) reported that the 2012 Travel and Tourism Economic Impact Report on Nigeria by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) indicated a steady growth in Nigeria’s GDP and jobs-creation efforts over the last four years. He further stressed that this development came despite the recent distractions caused by series of terrorist attacks in the northern part of the country. The WTTC further forecast in the report that in 2012 alone, some 897,500 jobs, representing 1.4 percent of Nigeria’s total engaged workforce would be generated by the travel and tourism industry. With about N1,232.2 billion (3.3 percent) contribution to the GDP in 2011; possible rise by 10.8 percent in 2012 and further increase by 7.0 percent annually to hit N2,690.8 billion in 2022, the Nigerian travel and tourism industry is fast opening up to huge investments. The job increase forecast was expected to “include employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines as well as activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists and other passenger services (excluding commuter services).”
2.2 Beach tourism and development
The beach is a tourism attraction. It is one of the most highly sought-after locations by tourists. The function of a beach (in tourism sense) depends on its ability to meet the needs of tourists in terms of adequate amenities for leisure, relaxation, fun, romance, adventure, security, etc (Falco-Mammone, 2005). Beaches are tourist sites or attractions that have economic value (i.e. beaches are economic assets). These economic development benefits could spread beyond the immediate environment of the beach. Moreover, businesses at the beachfront are supplied by businesses in nearby metropolitan areas (James et al, 2005).
In more recent years, the beach has been a place of diversion and recreation. It also has spiritual, natural and cultural advantages (Urbain, 2003). In today’s world, beach tourism is diversifying in nature and becoming more sophisticated while changing and developing in response to tourist needs. Meanwhile beach tourism incorporates other characteristics such as art, culture and environmental aesthetics (Falco-Mammone, 2005). Beaches are functional links that exist between the land and the sea/ocean. They are the main factor attracting humans to coastal areas, and play a major role in increasing tourist potential in such areas. Beach tourists engage in sunbathing, camping, picnicking, and aquatic sports.
Despite associated economic benefits, beach resort development faces problems due to the inability of stakeholders to make sound decisions about sustainable design. This is due in part to the complexity of the sustainability issues and lack of a comprehensive decision-making tool to assist in the process (Ahmed, 2001). Consequently such constraint has made the venture less attractive until recently. Actually, overtime, beaches face enormous challenges in the form of pollution, weather problem, degradation and overcrowding. The pollution (part of which poses health risks to tourists) results from population growth and increased development of coastal areas. In order to make beaches more favourable and conducive, countries like the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Canada, Poland and New Zealand have established a rating system for beach health and safety; featuring information on pollution, availability of safety materials for the tourists and security. This is exemplified by the Blue Flag Campaign which started in Europe in 1987 (Blue Flag Campaign, 2004). Nonetheless, reconciling environmental quality and tourism development has been the target of much literature (Holden, 2000).
James (2000) has made an attempt in classifying beaches. He identified ethnic, shared, intensive and conservative beaches in his classification. The ethnic beaches are situated in indigenous or strongly traditional areas and are characterized by infrastructure built with traditional architecture and materials while shared beaches have two or more simultaneous coastal activities, tourism being one of them. Intensive beaches are focused on the leisure experience of the tourists. Their main features are high beach-user density, long tourist season, strong infrastructure and facilities, and wide tourist services while conservative beaches are focused on environmental quality and protection of high natural values.
Beach development involves gradual growth of sandy area beside the sea, lake or river that is strongly developed for the purpose of recreation, tourism and leisure activities. This type of resort (Beach) is highly favored by certain factors, which include favorable climate, efficient transport system and recreational facilities for different age groups. However, not all coastal areas are suitable for beach tourism or recreation. Muddy beaches or those with narrow strip or high tide are inimical to development as resort. Beach beautification is enhanced by both hard and soft landscaping elements which include inorganic elements (roads, paths, sculptures, statues, buildings, etc) as hard landscaping materials, and organic or natural elements (ornamental plants such as trees) as soft landscaping elements.
3 The Study Area
Lokoja is both the capital city and a Local Government Area in Kogi State which is located in the North Central Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria. It lies on 7°49′N and 6°45′E with a population of 195,261 at the 2006 census (NPC, 2006). Lokoja is one of the oldest cities in Nigeria which enjoyed a great deal of prominence as a trading port city during the boom of European commercial activities in the 1950s and essentially as a confluence city. Lokoja has a heterogeneous population which includes the Yoruba, Igala, Ebira, Oworo and Hausa tribes among others. It is approximately 162 kilometres from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and covers an area of about 3,180 square kilometres. Major occupations are farming and fishing. The Confluence Beach was established in 1992 along Gannaja-Ajaokuta road to meet the need for tourism, recreation and leisure activity. Figure 1 shows the location of Kogi State in Nigeria while Figure 2 shows the location of Lokoja Local Government Area in Kogi State. Figure 3 shows the site of the Lokoja Confluence Beach.


Figure 1 Map of Nigeria showing the location of Kogi State



Figure 2 Map of Kogi State showing the location of Lokoja local government area



Figure 3 Lokoja confluence beach

 
4 Research Methodology
Purposive sampling technique was employed to select tourists for data gathering. This was due to lack of definite study population or sampling frame to work with despite the availability of monthly data on number of tourists. Specifically, 375 questionnaires were administered to tourists. Field assistants were engaged and sensitized to administer the questionnaires and retrieve such from tourists immediately. The survey was conducted from Monday to Sunday of the last week in May, 2008 which included a public holiday in Nigeria. Also, interview was conducted with the Director of Kogi State Tourism Board and the General Manager of the Confluence Beach Hotel to obtain other relevant information. Univariate analysis of data was carried out with the aid of Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Version 16.
5 Discussion of Research Findings
5.1 Socio-economic characteristics of the respondents
As indicated on Table 1, a few more male visitors (57.33% of tourists) than female were found among respondents. This indicated the need for provision of varieties of beach compatible recreational amenities without bias for particular sex interest. The middle age groups of 21-30 years and 31-40 years dominated the visitors as these groups represent 43.0% and 17.3% respectively; making up about 60% of the tourists. The younger of these groups is likely dominated by single student tourists while the older constitutes mainly the working and married class with potential to afford tourism or recreation outside immediate environment with or without family members. This is a characteristic of tourist products and consumers (i.e. the products are income elastic; higher income, increased consumption or purchases because tourism depends on disposable income). This equally goes far in determining the type of amenities needed along the beach for recreation aside the fact that most would come sunbathing and game viewing.


Table 1 Socio-economic Characteristics of Tourists
The fact that more than 80% of the tourists have a minimum of secondary school education confirms the influence of education and enlightenment on tourists’ behaviour. This also implies the need for regular public enlightenment to attract the uneducated to tourism and also create awareness (about existing tourist amenities) for the educated.
As earlier indicated by the dominant age groups, the tourists were mainly single (58.67%) and married (33.33%) working class. Furthermore, the data on occupational status affirms the economic capability of the tourists as a total of 53.33% of the tourists were employed in the civil service, private sector and were entrepreneurs while 45.33% were students. Only 1.33% of the tourists were unemployed. This does not take into consideration the fact that there were dependent tourists such as children since the data gathering realistically focused on mature respondents. As could be observed on Table 1, the number of tourists increased as the income of the tourists increased; so that the richest group constituted the highest number of tourists at the beach. This equally affirmed the position of Ode (2011) that the level of income in the society determines the level of tourism participation.

5.2 Awareness of Lokoja confluence beach
Figure 4 indicates that the highest percentage (54.66%) of tourists became aware of Lokoja Beach during interaction with their friends while advertisement on electronic media contributed to awareness by some 32.0% of the tourists (Figure 4).


Figure 4 How tourists knew about the Confluence Beach

 
Others got to know about this beach and associated amenities through newspaper adverts. However, it is of importance to mention that much of the electronic media and newspaper paper awareness were created through the local media. This limited the tourist attraction to mainly local visitors and a few foreigners who became aware of it by chance.
5.3 Perception on level of Lokoja Confluence Beach development
The perception of tourists on the development of the beach seemed to be clearly polarized at two extremes (Table 2). Certain factors were responsible for such scenario. First, tourists’ exposure to what ought to be the ideal conditions of beaches for recreation influenced their perception (especially those who viewed it as underdeveloped). Such awareness came from various sources which included television and internet with respect to conditions of beaches across the globe. Second, the condition of supporting recreational amenities equally affected perception (which may be either positive or negative). Some other factors might be responsible too but in most cases, it would have been a combination of more than one factor.


Table 2 Perception on the level of development of the confluence beach


5.4 Conditions and quality of products at the Lokoja Confluence Beach
Availability of amenities which meet the need of tourists is a key factor that attracts visitors for the purpose of recreation, leisure, religion, meeting and conferences among others (Nick, 2008). Such amenities must meet the need of various groups of tourists which include adults, children and the aged. This will also boost the local economy of the residents in the tourist attraction environment. The amenities identified at Lokoja Beach include conference hall, basketball court, Tennis court, spa/wellness centre and gymnasium. Others are swimming pool (for adult and children), restaurant/supermarket, laundry facility, a garden and an entertainment centre. The presence of amenities for the youths made the beach attractive to students especially during holiday and festive periods. However, some of these amenities needed to be improved while some others were still under construction at the time of investigation. The state of some of the amenities is revealed as follows:
a) Swimming Pool Area
The swimming pool was well equipped for swimming, diving and other water sports (Figure 5). It was very clean and also conducive for relaxation. The pool had its restaurant and bar with provision for musical entertainment. This made the pool very attractive to tourists; hence it was usually a busy area at the beach especially at weekends and festive periods. It attracted a three hundred naira (N300) charge for adults and one hundred naira (N100) for children between the ages of 8 and 12.


Figure 5 Lokoja beach swimming pool


b)
Beach Entertainment Centre
This centre was designed for live performances by entertainers (Figure 6). The centre was fairly conducive for its purpose though there was need to improve the surrounding landscape in order to make it more attractive. The centre was always busier in the night than daytime and the necessary authority needed to be consulted for permission to use the centre. However, the centre was not usually as busy as the swimming pool.


Figure 6 Lokoja beach entertainment centre


c)
Basketball Court
The basketball court did not attract many tourists. Most times, it was used by visiting students and a few other tourists with passion for the game. The court needed to be upgraded to international standard as it was not sufficiently attractive to visiting tourists (Figure 7).


Figure 7 Lokoja beach basketball court

 
d) Fishing Festival Arena
This is an area where the fishing festival took place annually. It was designed to celebrate the winners of the fishing competition which was usually organized at the beach on annual basis in October or November. It was also a location for eating pepper soup made with fresh fish from the river. Several tourists visit this site to enjoy some fresh soup with their loved ones (Figure 8).


Figure 8 Arena for beach fishing festival


e)
Beach Restaurant and Supermarket
The restaurant and supermarket (Figure 9) was fairly equipped with necessary amenities such as air conditioning and other essential amenities. It was owned and fully managed by the Confluence Beach Hotel with provision of food in the restaurant and various items in the supermarket. It was equally maintained with a high level of cleanliness in its existing environment. Same Hotel owns and oversees the restaurant and bar at the swimming pool with spaces let out to private restaurant operators and traders in diverse items.


Figure 9 The beach restaurant and supermarket

 
Other amenities at the beach included the Tennis court and the Beach Island (Figure 10) which were under construction at the time of visit to the site. It was expected that this would attract more tourists to the beach for fun and relaxation.


Figure 10 Lokoja beach island under construction

 
5.5 The Socio-economic impacts of Lokoja confluence beach
The emergence of the confluence beach has boosted the microeconomy of many individuals in the region. Both service and product oriented jobs had been created by the unique nature of the beach due to the confluence factor and the provision of some amenities. In this wise, job opportunities increased through increase in number of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and the provision of necessary goods and services in the area. Table 3 shows the salary statuses of employees at the beach. The presence of the open market at the beach particularly during festive periods was a major economic booster to the lives of the people within the region. Provision of fun ride for tourists on the river through the use of canoes was equally another avenue for income generation. This was for a fare of N200 per tourist. The government also benefited from taxation of goods and services within the area. The opportunity to meet with persons from different cultures and backgrounds was also of benefit to the social life of the people within the region.


Table 3 Salaries of employees at the confluence beach


However, certain social vices were also associated with the activities at the beach. These included prostitution and robbery. In this vein, the management of the beach in conjunction with the Kogi State Tourism Board developed guidelines to curb activities that may be detrimental to the life and property of tourists during their stay; most especially at festive periods. Additionally, the high susceptibility of the beach to flooding was manifested during the 2012 large-scale flooding of several parts of the country. This limited access of tourists to the beach especially at the peak of rainy season.
5.6 Development challenges facing Lokoja confluence beach
The state board and managers of the beach identified some problems confronting beach tourism in the study area. A major problem was the relatively low patronage compared with other sites or facilities in the country (such as several beaches in the city of Lagos). Several factors were responsible for this. Lack and diversion of funds to other government projects were identified as a major problem in the development of the beach. Lack of policy implementation towards developing the beach was not left out of the list of problems. Poor power supply to the area posed a major challenge too while the bridges linking the confluence point to the beach was yet to be constructed. This served as a major constraint to tourists who would like to see the confluence point but have the phobia for water transport as provided by canoes. There was need to complete the construction of some of the amenities at the beach such as the tennis court and the confluence island as mentioned earlier while some other amenities needed upgrading to world standard. It was equally discovered that there was no police post (to curb identified social vices) or healthcare facility within the beach territory. The problem of poor awareness at international front also came into view as the government had not done enough to project the image of the beach on the international scene.
6 Policy Recommendations and Conclusion
Lokoja Confluence Beach had immense tourism potentials that could aid its development beyond the present situation. Such potentials included the confluence point of both Rivers Niger and Benue and relics of historical significance. In order to achieve the required improvement, certain recommendations are necessary. There is need for supplementary funding from the three tiers of government in order to provide more amenities and upgrade existing ones. Such funds are to be disbursed and monitored to prevent diversion at any level. Revenue generation could be achieved through collection of token fees to use amenities that are provided.Furthermore, development of marketing and sensitization policy (enriched with diverse strategies and through various media) to attract both local and foreign tourists would help to improve both local and national economy. The policy needs to include specific management strategies at peak patronage periods such as festive periods and the provision of souvenirs in the process of advertisement. There would be need to improve on security measures to continually prevent social vices and specifically the possibility of terrorist attack on the site. On the amenities, there would be need to reconstruct the road and bridge which links the confluence point at the beach while regular power supply should not be left out. The indoor sports hall should be provided to accommodate associated games within the area in order to complement existing amenities.
The tourism industry is labour intensive and people oriented, embracing a wide range of occupation, skills, and private sector initiatives. The industry offers a vast range of investment and job opportunities which are sometimes new and very often provide unequalled opportunity for improving the living standard of the people. Furthermore, tourism also offers outstanding opportunity for enhanced economic prosperity at macro level as it contributes to national economies. It is believed that the implementation of stated recommendations would facilitate achievement of personal, community and national benefits.
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