1. Background of the study

Tourism is the movement of tourists from one destination to another. It is the temporary, short term movement of people to destinations outside the place where they normally live or work and it includes the activities they indulge in at destination as well as the facilities and services specially created to meet their needs (Bernardhino& Laos, 2001). The movement can be within a tourist’s country or a foreign destination visit.

Globally, tourism plays fundamentally vital roles in economic development and environmental sustainability. Tourism activities create jobs for local residents, local traders and business receive a financial boost from tourist visits, more money is retained in the local economy and the natural environment; including monuments, artifacts, reserves, water, land and forest resources are protected and preserved (Kahn, Ming & Shao, 2011). It is in recognition of the unique potential inherent in tourism that countries, governments, communities and organizations around the world are advocating for sustainable tourism development and exploration (Gabby &Giffords, 2013). Nigeria is not left out of the league of nations with bountiful tourism potential. With its vast resources, Nigeria possesses all its requires to rank among the highest earning tourism-driven economies on the African continent, but unfortunately, over the past seven years, much of that vision is yet to be visualized (Kabiri& Musa, 2009). The same goes for Cross River State. Being one of the most tourism-conscious states in Nigeria, Cross River State is well known for its incredible strides in tourism development, which is why hundreds of tourists visit various destinations in Calabar annually, especially duringhundreds of tourists visit various destinations in Calabar annually, especially during the famous Calabar Carnival ceremony.

However, in order to sustain and ultimately improve this advantage and bring sustainable development to the tourism industry, there is an urgent need for planners and policy-makers of tourism destination to implement various marketing and non-marketing approaches. In support of this assertion, Robertson (2010) opines that to ultimately guarantee development of tourism in countries, there is much need for sustained government funding and attention, private sector participation and effective marketing. According to the foregoing marketing along other factors, is critical to sustainable tourism development.

According to the American Marketing Association, as cited in Frederick and Douglas (2013), Marketing is defined as planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives, The purpose of marketing is to satisfy individual and organisational needs by identifying, and satisfying these needs (Jaffer, 2004). He adds that marketing identifies and forecasts customer needs through marketing research. Brown and Gabey (2008) view marketing as the social and commercial process of identifying consumer needs and wants, and organizing and coordinating resources to satisfy these wants and needs at a profit. It primarily deals with knowing what the market wants, and marshalling organizational resources to create and deliver an offering that best meets the needs of the market at a profit. Marketing plays indispensable roles in businesses and firms around the world, without which they are bound to fail in the marketplace. Marketing creates awareness about what the firm offers, thoroughly enlightens, and educates consumers about these offerings, persuades and convinces them to try the firm’s offerings, stimulates and induces them to repeat purchase and refer their friends and family, ensures consumer are satisfied, equips firms with formidable competitive capabilities to surmount their competitors and effectively gain control of market leadership and enhance the profitability, efficiency and effectiveness of its programmes, strategies and campaigns (Williams, 2011; Wells & Getty, 2007; and Crowder, 2010). Based on the aforementioned views, it is apparent that marketing holds within it the key to sustainable business growth and development.

Applied to the Cross River State tourism industry, marketing could play fundamentally imperative roles by acting as a reliable catalyst for growth and development. The effective application of marketing strategies in the tourism industry will certainly increase the Government’s awareness of the enormous deposits of tourism potential in the state and the possible amount of revenue that could be generated by the industry and ignite an interest on the part of the Government to invest in the industry’s exploration and development. Similarly, marketing will increase consumer awareness of available tourist attractions and destinations and influence them to patronize repeatedly thereby boosting the satisfaction of tourists and the profitability of tourist firms and operators, thereby accelerating the growth of the industry.

On the basis of the above premise, this study will examine thoroughly the effect of marketing strategies on tourism development in Cross River State, Nigeria.

  1. Statement of the problem

The enormous roles played by marketing in the growth and sustainable development of tourism cannot be disputed. Marketing boosts tourists’ awareness, educates tourists on tourism destinations and attractions, influences, persuades and convinces them to develop the intention to visit, and stimulates them to make actual visits and revisits to the destination, and guarantees tourist satisfaction, enhances sales volume, revenue, profitability and gives tourist firms sustainable competitive capabilities that enable them to thrive and succeed in the industry.

However, in spite of the advantages of marketing to the tourism industry, tourism service-providers and operators in Cross River State have yet to leverage this enormous potential, because they are unaware of the indispensable roles of marketing in tourism development, they lack the financial programme of marketing within their firms, plummeting government funding and attention, and harsh economic conditions challenging Nigeria as a developing African country (Shuaibu& Mustapha, 2014). As a consequence, from everyday observation, there have been incidents of declining tourist awareness of tourism destinations in Calabar, plummeting tourist visits and patronage, declining revenue and profit accruing to tourism operators, and some firms have been eliminated from the industry due to weak competitive perseverance and lack of tourists.

Marina Resort and Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort, Calabar have not been spared from these challenges. These organizations grapple with how to stay relevant in the industry, counter the competition, boost sales, profitability, tourist patronage and loyalty and gain overall competitive advantages amidst far-reaching environmental constraints.

In the light of the issues observed above, this study will critically examine the effect of marketing on tourism development in Cross River State, Nigeria.