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Background of the Study

Tourism is travel for recreational or leisure purposes, while a tourist is a person who travel to and stay in places outside his usual environment for over 24 hours but not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes that is not related to any exercise or an activity that is remunerated within the place visited (Babalola and Oluwatoyin, 2014). Tourism has become a popular global leisure activity with a record of receipts from international tourism in destinations around the world, with a growth rate of 4% in 2012, reaching US$ 1075 billion in 2013 (Babalola and Oluwatoyin, 2014). This growth is equal to the 4% increase in international tourist arrivals which reached 1035 million in 2012.

Tourism as an industry is dynamic and competitive, and is recognized widely as one of the world’s largest growth industry. The constant development of new tourism products has led to an increased need for knowledge, flexibility and creativity.

Nigerian tourism potentials are seen as untapped opportunities towards the development of their communities and nations at large (Ishii, 2009). In the contrary, poverty amidst plenty is the centre stage in development debates on the continent (Hays, 2006). More than half of the region’s populations earned below one US Dollar per day (Abegunde, Omisore and Adeyinka, 2007). They are haunted by negative effects of poverty such as inadequate infrastructure, urban slum, makeshift housing, poor technology, low industrialisation and perennial civil conflicts over scarce resources (Gakunzi, 2005). These have made the search for ‘pro-poor growth’, that is the growth that will benefit the poor people and speed community development with little investments very urgent.

Tourism industry, the present largest industry in the world holds the key to this in the new millennium (Naude and Saayman, 2004; Wold Tourism Organisation, 2003; Lickorish and Jenkins, 1997). First, in recent years, tourism has been increasingly recognised for its economic potential to contribute to the reduction of poverty in Nigeria (Awaritefe, 2004; Afolabi, 2001; Awaritefe, 2000; Chokor, 1993). Its geographical expansion and labour intensive nature support a spread of employment and can be particularly relevant in remote and rural areas of Nigerian communities where over 70 percent of the land space is occupied by rural populations (Nigeria National Planning Commission, 2004; World Bank, 2004). Specifically in Nigeria, tourism performance and statistics have been on the rise in recent years. It ranked third in the country’s export after petroleum and cocoa (Falade, 2000; Oyejide and Bankole, 2001 as cited by Ayiorinde, 2011). The country is said to be more endowed with natural and historical resource centres than any other nation in sub-Saharan Africa (Ekpenyong, 2001; Adelaja, 1997).

This has stirred scholars to encourage Nigerians and their counterparts in other African nations to utilize potentials in tourism to promote socio-economic growth and physical development of their communities (Omisore, 2002; Awaritefe, 2004; Roe, Ashley, Page and Meyer, 2004; Mohammed, 2004).

Past studies on the subject in the country have focused more on the provision of infrastructure at tourist centres (Falade, 2000), spatial distribution and preservation of tourist centres (Omisore, 2002; Ojo, 1978) and socio cultural, economic and environmental impacts of tourism on host communities (Awaritefe, 1994; Smith and Eadington, 1992; Adejuwon and Akpenyong, 2001; Abegunde et al., 2007).

An important driver of integrated development in the 21st century is tourism. It plays a role in the spatial interaction and integration of both the rural and urban setting thereby generating interactive medium for promoting an integrative economy. The twilight of the 20th century witnessed a most dramatic improvement in tourism evolution and development (UNCTAD, 1998).

Tourism is a great agent of spatial change and development. It is the spatial dimensions of tourist resources that vividly influence development.

A search of relevant literature shows that extensive studies have been done by tourism and recreation experts to establish the spatial pattern of tourism facilities and tourist behaviour. According to Knudson (2008), people will generate impact on the environmental resources they use, just as diverse environment elicit different influence on the individual’s behaviour. Notable environmental psychologists, such as, Rapoport (2006), and Odemerho (2006), suggest that differences in culture, socio-economic and demographic characteristics may reflect differences in environmental resources use and activity patterns amongst visitor groups. This study is therefore conducted to investigate the relationship between spatial pattern of tourism and tourist behaviour in Asaba, Delta State.

Statement of the Problem

With a rapid decline in natural resources many countries today have taken very seriously the potential impacts of tourism on developmental drive. The synergy between tourism and national development has shaped the development equation so drastically that even without any minerals a country can develop based on the benefits accruable from tourism. However, a tour to most of the tourist centres in Asaba shows them empty and deserted. This makes one wonder if they are not attracted enough to attract tourists. Most of them lack the necessary facilities that are characteristic of a tourist centre. Even the few with facilities are too old and neglected. Tourists, especially international tourists are very particular about world class facilities and attractive site. This study is therefore designed to study the relationship between spatial pattern of tourism facilities and tourist behaviour in Asaba, Delta State.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between the spatial pattern of tourism facilities and tourist behaviour. Specifically, the study will examine the following:

  1. The availability of facilities in the tourist sites
  2. Level of satisfaction of tourists at tourism sites
  3. Tourism facilities, Culture and Tourist Behaviour
  4. Relationship between gender and tourists behaviour

Research Questions

The following research questions are raised to guide the study:

  1. Are there available facilities in the tourist sites?
  2. What is the level of satisfaction of tourists at tourism sites?

Research Hypotheses

          The following hypotheses are formulated to guide the study:

  1. There is no relationship between tourist perception of tourism facilities and tourists behaviour
  2. There is no relationship between gender and tourists behaviour?

Significance of the Study  

This study will be very useful to the owners of tourist centres, tourists and the government.

The owners of tourist centres will benefit from the finding of the study in that they will be exposed to the perception of tourists on the behaviour of tourists towards the services they are being rendered. This will be very useful to their business as they apply the recommendation of the study, they will enhance the quality of their services.

Tourists will also benefit from the recommendation of the study. This is because when the owners of tourists centres apply the recommendation from the study and enhance their services, the tourists will benefit from the facilities.

Finally, the study will draw the attention of both government and interest groups to see the possibility of re-building tourism into lucrative industry in the state.  

Scope of the Study

This study focus on the spatial pattern of tourism facilities and tourist behaviour. The study will cover Asaba, the capital city of Delta State. Asaba is endowed with a number of tourist centres which will be used for the study.

Study Area

Asaba City is the capital of Delta State, and has an estimated population of 150,032 (2006 census). The city of Asaba was once the colonial capital of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate. It was founded in 1884. It hosted the Royal Niger Company, which the British authorities set up to stimulate trade and the exportation of goods to England. That company has grown today into the UAC Nigeria PLC. Its traditional ruler is the Asagba.

The city of Asaba, the capital of oil rich Delta State of Nigeria is strategically located on a hill at the western edge of the majestic River Niger. The historic River Niger is a trans-African link beginning from West Africa and down into the Atlantic Ocean. Asaba forms a connector between western, eastern and northern Nigeria through the River Niger from the north and via the Asaba Niger Bridge, an east west link and a Nigeria landmark.

Asaba lies approximately 6 degrees north of the equator and about the same distance east of the meridian; about 160 kilometres (100 mi) north of where the River Niger flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The greater Asaba occupies an area of about 300 square kilometers. It maintains an average tropical temperature of 32 °C during the dry season and an average fertile rainfall of 2,700 millimetres (106 in) during the rainy season.

The composition of Asaba is mainly of Igbo people. Other groups in the city consists of Urhobo, Ukwuani, Isoko, Ijaw, Ika, Hausa, Itsekiri and Yoruba people.

Fig.1: Map of Asaba

Source: Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban Development, Asaba (2002)

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