Tourism, no doubt, is an industry with enormous potential that can be used to generate revenue, create employment, increase foreign exchange earnings and alleviate poverty. The industry has created massive employment over the years and has also contributed to the development of the nation.
Tourism is an industry that can’t be overlooked due to its appealing natural phenomenon and resources that if properly administered will boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In this wise, the federal and state governments should at this time that there is dwindling revenue from oil and the proposed diversification of the economy emulate countries that have developed their tourism sector by investing adequately in it.
Some of such nations are the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Gambia and Kenya. Tourism development should be in the heart of the Nigeria government for it to see it as a veritable and viable industry that can serve as an alternative to oil in terms of income generation. As the country is searching for how to diversify into other areas that could generate income, tourism buffs share their thoughts on how best the sector could yield revenue even much more than crude oil.
The Co-founder, Afro Tourism Expo, Mr Joesef Karim, says that periodic expositions can be used to draw influx of tourists and investors into the country which, in turn, will help to increase the nation`s foreign exchange earnings. He said that the 2015 Afro Tourism Expo with the theme “Intra-Africa Transport Infrastructure: The Panacea for Africa’s Tourism Development’’, recorded a huge success.
Karim noted that one of the objectives of the Expo was to stimulate development of Africa’s tourism industry.
“The expo provides opportunity for travel operators to proffer alternative solutions to the Federal Government with tourism destination structures to execute their travel and tourism policies. “It also helps to facilitate entry permits among West African travellers and tourists.
“This involves sectoral groups partnering to package and sell tours to destinations in the sub-region,’’ Karim said.
According to him, these activities will engender the harnessing of the potential locked up in the sector to improve the economy.
The Gambian-born tourism expert, Mr Adama Bah, says the tourism industry is big and has numerous investment opportunities that can be used to grow the economy. “The industry is fast growing globally and it is gaining private, public and government attention and participation to boost revenue,’’ he said.
He urged the government to develop the sector because it could be a better alternative in the diversification of the economy. Bah said that tourism industry cannot improve without necessary infrastructure being in place and appealed to government at all levels to ensure adequate infrastructure to attract investors and tourists.
According to Mr Kushal Dutta, the Managing Director, JOVAGO, a Lagos-based online tour booking company, the government can create enabling environment for investors.
Dutta says that stakeholders have been doing their best to promote and support the development of the industry but noted that the role government needed to play is making adequate provisions to improve on the nation’s tourism facilities.
“If the necessary facilities are there, it would be easier for investors to market domestic tourism products to the world; this will bring about high influx of tourists and investors into the country,’’ he said.
For Mr Saleh Rabo, the Vice-President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), adequate infrastructure is the key to sustainable tourism development.
Rabo expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s decision not to have a tourism ministry, adding that it is necessary for the government to engage experts before making decisions.
He said that the sector was capable of creating millions of jobs, alleviate poverty, increase foreign exchange earnings and ultimately boost the nation’s revenue.
Both participants and organisers shared the view that for the tourism industry to thrive well there should be a separate ministry to manage it.
They urged the government to reconsider the merger of federal ministries and ensure that culture and tourism was excised from information.
It will be recalled that the industry was under the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation before the advent of President Muhammadu Buhari-led government on may 29, 2015.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the one day expo, concluded on Nov. 17, recorded high attendance of participants.
NAN also reports that the exhibitors that participated expressed satisfaction with the organisation and sales.
The companies that exhibited include Destination Marketing Extra Ltd, South African Airways, HASHA Travel and Tours, Travelfix.co, Camp Africa, EDC Travel and Tours, All States Travels and Tours Ltd and Chrianime Travel and Tours. (NANFEATURE)
Source: NANFEATURES/Vol. 9/No. 244/2015 (Dec. 1) Raising Nigeria’s Earning via Proper Tourism Administration, By Idris Olukoya, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)