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Nigeria’s Tourism: Another Path To Economy Growth

Ogun State Dazzles At INAC Expo

October 17, (THEWILL) – In this piece, JANEFRANCES CHIBUZOR reports that Nigeria as a multi-cultural nation has a rich tourism potential awaiting development

The global economic recession has posed new challenges to the world, in addition to challenges from global warming, which have affected the economies of many countries across the world.

The Nigerian economy depends mostly on proceeds from crude oil exportation and this has been the bane of the country. Until the Federal Government begins to look inwards and diversify the economy, the country cannot make any headway.

It is time for Nigeria to spread the tentacles of her economic prowess to other service sectors, such as tourism, for growing the economy across the states.

Tourism is the most promising driver of sustainable and inclusive growth.

Compared with other nations across the globe, Nigeria is unique; her weather and rich tourism facilities are appealing enough to woo foreign investors. Stakeholders advocate the development and exploitation of these resources for job and wealth creation.

The Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Enugu State, Mr Ugonna Ibe, said the basic requirement of any government was to provide basic infrastructure, which include good roads, electricity and security, as well as to create a conducive environment for business. Tourism cannot thrive in an insecure atmosphere, no doubt. Some other countries the world are reaping the rewards of tourism development. This is because their governments did what they were supposed to do by building good roads and ensuring adequate electricity supply, among other basic infrastructure.

Ibe, who spoke with THEWILL recently, noted, “Tourism is all about movement of people from their places of abode to other places for the purpose of a sight-seeing, leisure and recreation.

“We can attest that we have many things and each of the states in Nigeria has so much tourism potential, endowments and different types of weather that makes it attractive for tourism destinations or sites to thrive.

“The private sector is part of the whole process because it will be affected  positively. If the tourism business is booming and making waves in the country, the hospitality industry and transportation, as well as other businesses in the rural communities, would make profits and grow the GDP of a nation like Nigeria. The private sector should be part of the entire tourism development project. There should be laid down rules and regulations to that effect.

“But then, government on its part has a duty to ensure that those people that come in to develop the industry should be given a soft landing. Someone investing on a particular venture should be able to get returns on investment and so in the area of taxation. Government should be able to grant him tax holiday for a period of time.”

Ibe said the private sector could leverage such tax holidays for a period of five or 10 years without paying anything and that would make it attractive for the private sector to come in and invest in tourism. According to him, it is a two-way thing and the private sector has to see tourism as a viable business that can be exploited.

Also, the Project Manager, Lekki Conservation Centre, one of the eco- tourism sites in Lagos, Adedamola Ogunsesan, pointed out, “We need to improve security around those  places, we need to create accessibility. We could use this to develop the rural economy. It is a strong means of improving livelihood and infrastructure, as well as reducing unemployment and social vices in our rural communities.

“It is also a strong means of reducing rural and urban migration because they provide the necessary platform for young people living in the hinterland to create an alternative means of livelihood.  But we need to improve on the security situation in the country. We need to ensure accessibility and develop the capacity of the locals.

“We do not need big hotels. Sometimes when you go to France and Spain, it is the royal household that creates one or two extra rooms within their home and host guests.”

Another stakeholder, the Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Hotels Management and Tourism Board, Mr Ini Akpabio, noted that there is a need to reposition Nigeria’s brands to benefit the citizens, as tourism touches each and everyone economically.

As we normally say, tourism is life. More so, all the states and communities that embrace tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic ends will ensure that their communities,  their states and their countries will quickly bounce back to  previous economic prosperity, which they enjoyed prevuiously.

The President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Nkereuwem Onung, explained that the new normal has revealed the need for a strategic action plan that will bring tourism stakeholders together and create mutually beneficial projects.

“I must commend the resilience and doggedness of the private sector for the rebound of the sector after COVID-19 regulations ambushed its growth and also without help coming from anywhere.

Commenting, the General Manager of Jaiye’s Place Luxury Hotels and Resorts, Mr Gibson Ngoka, “What people come to appreciate is the way we live and do things differently. Tourists troop to Kenya, especially in the Maasai area because of their peculiar culture and way of life. The bottom line is the quest to learn news things and appreciate humanity in their diverse forms and disposition.

“Now talking of Nigeria and tourism, we have robbed ourselves of opportunities to generate tons of foreign exchange by not looking inwards. There are many scenes that will pep up any adventurous tourist’s desire to look closer to know what we are offering. Over concentration on short term gains have made it difficult for us to sit and develop our values.

“We need to start a process of appreciating ourselves in order to attract other people to see us. Our history with the corona virus should even be a reason for people to come and see why we, despite scientific predictions, survived the scourge more than more technologically advanced Nations. What constitute our menu and the rich herbal deposits we have that can ward off any ailment.

“The tourism equity of Nigeria is very high and it is yet to be tapped. Lovers of wild life will be surprised to know that there are elephant colonies in Ogun State. That is just a speck of what the nation has in store. Perhaps, the major threat is the security situation in the country. Sites like the Yankari Game Reserve and other scenic sites in Plateau State are no-go areas because of security. If security is tackled, tourism may as well be the next oil in Nigeria’s economy, “he noted.