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The environment is important in attracting tourism flows with their attendant economic effects. Conservation of valued environmental features can help in balancing and maintaining tourism visitation and tourism’s contribution to the economy. Tourists, however, can also ‘love the environment to death’, impairing the very thing that attracts them and bringing about its deterioration and destruction. For this reason, satisfactorily resolving this problem is important to the tourist industry, especially given a limited supply of pristine environments and with tourist demand expected to grow in the future (Dwyer et al 2010). Tourism as an industry affects the environment through the interplay with natural (oceans, wildlife habitats, coral reefs etc), human (values, cultural activities etc) and built (ancient ruins, historic towns, monuments, theme parks etc) resources. It is a two-edged sword, however, with the potential for both positive and negative impacts. Hence, with it you can cook your food, and it can also burn down your house when mismanaged.
The maintenance of tourism as a dynamic rather than a static industry depends to a large extent upon the adoption of a strategic approach to planning and development. The success of such an approach is largely dependent upon a systematic and structured analysis of the broad environmental factors affecting tourism demand as an essential part of the planning process (Theobalt 2001). The world is changing and experiencing shifts in social values that affect the way we act as individuals, businesses and governments. It has been noted that part of the change is an increasing recognition that past growth, and development have led to some serious negative impacts on the environment. Some of them are glaring (shrinking water supplies, homeless garbages), while others seems to be concealed but really constituting nuisance (like the depletion of ozone layer, loss of diversity and global warming) (Murphy and Price 2001).
Tourism as we know is the application of knowledge to the real life situation, which brings about societal development by showcasing a nation’s cultural heritage (as well as natural). This does not mean that tourism is less destructive to the environment than other industries; it has its own cut into the existence of man and his environment. Hence, the need to follow an environmentally compatible pattern of tourism development is now well into its third decade. In spite of the fact that environmental issues are high profile in the development process, little has been achieved to ensure that future development are environmentally sound. It is obvious that any form of industrial development will normally bring impact on the environment in which it takes place. The tourism industry is made up of outputs consumed by the tourists, and their visit to the place of production is often associated with many activities, which have environmental consequences (Cooper et al, 2005).
Such economic and environmental consequences led many nations, companies and individuals to the June 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro. There they attempted to address a controversial agenda designed to protect Earth’s environment and to foster less destructive industrialization and development (Murphy and Price 2006). This Conference brought to the forefront, the need to develop projects in an environmentally friendly way, hence, it introduced the principles of “polluter pays and cradle to the grave”. We should recall that tourism is a highly heterogeneous industry, and different environmental planning tools are applied at different scales and in different jurisdictions. In most countries only certain components of the tourism industry, and particular types of tourism development, are subject to project-scale environmental impact assessment. This incomplete approach to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the industry has affected its effectiveness and this has impinged on the growth of the sector because tourism is a great user of the environment.
It then suffices to say that the need to carry out EIA prior to any tourism project cannot be over emphasized so as to anticipate the effects of tourism development and provide remedial actions were necessary. Many countries of the world that have benefited from tourism have ended up being blinded by the economic impact of tourism, without paying adequate attention to the environmental impact (which can also be negative as well as positive). Commenting on this, Murphy and Price (2001) relate the notion that an inexorable relationship exists between the economy and the environment. Tourism’s interest in sustainable development and the environment is logical given that it is one industry that sells the environment, both physical and human as its product.
It is against the background that the research uses a longitudinal study design or trend analysis to examine EIA practice in Nigeria in the past two decades. The aim is to evaluate its implication to tourism development in the country. This entails investigating the implementation of EIA generally and those of tourism projects to see the level of adherence. The research will also evaluate the procedure for registration, criteria for approval/dismissal and a documentation of the EIA done so far in the country in so far as tourism projects are concerned.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Ever since the 1972 Stockholm UN Conference which established the nexus between under-development and environmental integrity, environmental issues have become transnational. Consequently, after the 1992 UN Conference on environment and development otherwise known as “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janerio, many countries of the world developed an action plan for sustainable development in the 21st century. These have become the policy instruments that drive environmental programmes in many developed countries. Principle 17 of this conference declared inter alia that “Environmental Impact Assessment as a national instrument shall be undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent national authority” (Oluwole 2008).
The Federal Government of Nigeria enacted the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act No 86 of 1992 as a demonstration of her commitment to the Rio declaration. It is noteworthy that Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Act was enacted the same year (NTDC Act 81 of 1992). Nevertheless, two decades after the enactment of these laws, the country’s tourism industry is still at low ebb. The apex tourism agency in the country (NTDC) charged with the overall responsibility of promoting, marketing and co-ordinating tourism activities in the country leaves much to be desired.
Studies have shown that although EIA process in Nigeria has strong legal backing, there is need to review some of its provisions. Discoveries equally show that there are overlapping responsibilities amongst environmental agencies. This lack of inter-agency co-ordination and transparency has greatly diminished the credibility of the entire EIA process. The menace has been traced by a Minister in charge of environment to the inability of Nigerians, organizations and government at all levels to adhere to the Environmental Impact Assessment law (Abutu, 2012).
Consequently, this research examine the two decades of EIA practice in Nigeria, but with emphasis on the tourism industry. The aim is to evaluate the successes and challenges with a view to suggesting the way forward. This entails examining the level of acceptance and adherence to EIA process in the country, the criteria for approval, and/or dismissal, as well as the regulations guiding the practice. Emphasis will be laid on the tourism industry. In other words, what are the successes and challenges of EIA practice in the tourism industry in the last two decades in Nigeria?
1.2 Research Questions
What is the EIA process employed by the Ministry in evaluating projects?
v How is the EIA activities in the country in the past two decades documented?
v What criteria are used for projects approval or dismissal by the ministry?
v What factors are responsible for the level of adherence to EIA in the country?
v What are the penalties for violating the EIA Act in the country?
v What is the solution and way forward to the problems facing EIA in the country, particularly the tourism sector?
1.3 Research Objectives
The general objective of this study is to evaluate the two decades of EIA practices in Nigeria, laying emphasis on tourism. The aim is to elicit information on the successes and challenges during the said period, and how they impact on tourism development. Specifically, the objectives of the study are:
v To examine how EIA process has been employed in evaluating tourism projects such as hotels, airports, national parks and resorts.
v To study the EIA activities in the past two decades and how these have been documented;
v To identify the projects that were approved or dismissed by the ministry, and the criteria used;
v To evaluate the level of adherence to EIA in the country and the factors responsible for such;
v To know how the violators of the EIA Act in the country has been penalized.
v Based on the findings, to proffer solutions to the problems facing EIA in the country, particularly the tourism sector.
1.4 Research Methodology
This simply is about the systematic approach to be used in the conduct of the research. It involves the following;
1.4.1 Research Design
Research design simply entails the plan of study; it encompasses different approaches of collecting information for this research. The study design to be used is qualitative research method which involves going to the field to see, participate and ask questions that will give reliable and relevant information concerning an issue.
The research will be agency/ministry/corporation based since they are the different bodies that handle tourism and EIA matters in the country. The ministry of Environment will be one of the target groups, same as Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) since they oversee EIA and tourism activities in the country respectively. Corporate Affairs Commission will also be visited to assess the registration of tourism projects in the country so as to know if all the registered projects that fall within EIA mandatory study list benefit from EIA.
1.4.2 Method of Data Collecting and Instrument
Ethnographic method comprising direct observation and interviews (semi-structured) will be used to elicit information from the relevant authorities in the different agencies/ministries/corporations. Major developmental projects in the country (tourism-based) mostly in the Federal Capital Territory will be surveyed to enable us decipher the level of adherence to EIA practice. Thus, Abuja was visited as the capital of Nigeria, with the different establishments involved in the research having their headquarters there.
Lastly, photographic documentation will be employed to spice the study and add validity to the study, while documentary method (existing literatures) will be used to place the work on a correct historical stance.
1.4.3 Method of Data Analysis
The data collected during the study will be analyzed qualitatively. The information collected through semi-structured interviews, direct observation and secondary sources will generate useful material for qualitative interpretation. The data analyzed would help us to see the EIA activities in the country in the last two decades, and the sectors that benefitted most statistically. Also, the ratio of tourism projects for which EIA was done to the overall EIA projects will be tabulated and presented so as to deduce the margin between how the tourism sector has benefitted as against other sectors.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research will be of immense value to the relevant bodies/corporations involved as it would exist to add impetus to the concept of EIA and its relevance to the practice of tourism in the country. It will equally be beneficial to institutions of learning as well as students as it will add to their literature and provide a framework for their research.
The research work will be unique in its own light since it will equally bring to the general public the successes/challenges of EIA in Nigeria since its inception two decades ago, and how the tourism industry has so far benefitted. Hence, the work will show the importance of environmental management to tourism sustainability in the country.
Finally, this research work will greatly propel as well as properly equip the researcher for future scholarly endeavour, especially in the areas of tourism and environmental management.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research work is strictly limited to the last two decades (1992-2013) so as to ascertain EIA practice within the said period. It will be centered on Nigeria as a country, with particular references to those states that have tourism projects for which EIA was conducted. The work will explore the different projects carried out in the country within the said period, but as stated earlier with particular emphasis on tourism projects. The essence is to ascertain the level of adherence to EIA implementation in the tourism industry. Hence, it is instructive to limit the research work to such projects since it is the area of focus. Effort will also be made to look at other sectors like oil and gas, agriculture, communication, transportation, mining, infrastructure etc as against the tourism industry to have a better insight. However, in the course of the research reference will be made to Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory which is expected to show a high level of adherence to EIA in Nigeria.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
Some limitations directly or indirectly affected the conduct of the work as well as the result of the report. Very pertinent is the issue of financial limitation which affected the researcher greatly considering the distance to cover during the research (Nsukka to Abuja and surface transport within).
Also, because of the academic commitments of the researcher as an academic, he has a tight schedule; hence, he could barely squeeze out enough time for the research as supposed. Also as stated earlier, considering the distance to cover, the researcher found it difficult for repeated visit because of his academic engagements.
Finally, there was the issue of paucity of documentation in the Ministry of Environment which affected the current work and has posed as a serious threat to initial researchers on EIA practice in the country, who have not been able to give a vivid account of the activities due to poor documentation. Also, there was the problem of snapping some informants and some relevant projects alike in the study areas because of the current security challenges facing the country.
1.8 Clarification of Terms/Concepts
For the purpose of clarity, the terms/concepts used in the work will briefly be explained. They include: longitudinal, Environmental Impact Assessment, Tourism and Development.
v Longitudinal: According to concise Oxford Dictionary (2004), longitudinal relates to running lengthwise; involving information about an individual or group gathered over a prolonged period. It can simply be defined as the study of a phenomenon over a period of time.
v EIA: This is simply an acronym depicting Environmental Impact Assessment. Abutu, (2012) sees it as a systematic process to identify, predict and evaluate the environmental effects of proposed actions in order to aid decision making regarding the significant environmental consequences of projects, developments, and programmes. Anago (2002) defines it as a tool for striking a balance between development and the environment. Simply put, it is the process of taking into account the baseline condition of a site prior to implementation of any project to ascertain the likely impact of the proposed project on the environment. It is in order to say here that the essence of EIA is to ensure environmental sustainability, which has been accepted by many countries of the world as a policy making tool for environmental management
v Tourism: The definition of tourism overtime has been a subject of controversy because it is a multi dimensional and multifaceted activity spanning across lives and business activities (Dieke 2006). For Okpoko and Okpoko (2002), tourism is any temporary movement of persons from one destination to another, and such movement must be aimed at achieving a desired objective. Omeje (2006) sees tourism as the sum of phenomena and relationship arising from the travel and stay of non-residents in so far as they do not lead to permanent residence and are not connected with any earning activity. For Agbonlahor (2006), tourism is the movement of persons from one place to another for leisure or business and the mobilization of facilities to cater for the welfare and comfort of such persons. Simply put, tourism can be seen as an origin-linkage-destination (which usually arises when the destination area convinces the origin that it has something of interest). Hence, tourism involves the movement of people outside their usual place of residence for leisure, education, meeting, conference, health purpose etc, which is usually more than 24 hours and not more than one year. The characteristics of tourism includes;
a. The tourists will like to go back to their usual place of residence after a considerable period of time.
b. Money spent is usually generated from home and not generated in the place visited.
v Development: This term has been defined in many ways, meaning different things to various experts. Political scientists regard it as freedom from political rule; they focus on the problems of nation building as modernization occurs. Economists view it as economic growth. Sociologists and anthropologists see it in terms of the process of differentiation (that characterized modern societies (Ehizuelen 1996 cited in Agbonlahor 2006).
Conclusively, Seers (1992) cited in Agbonlahor (2006) sees development in terms of the elimination or drastic reduction of three inter-related social problems namely: poverty, inequality, and unemployment. Invariably, development means answering the following questions; what have you done to curb inequality, what have you done to unemployment and poverty? Simply put, development can be seen as the movement from the simple to the complex or from crude to a more advance stage.
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