October 03, (THEWILL) – In this piece, Janefrances Chibuzor observes that Nigeria has joined other nations of the world in experiencing a fair deal of economic growth through the celebration of 2021 World Tourism Day (WTD) last Monday.
With a firm belief that the WTD 2021 celebration, using Kebbi as a host state would provide favourable ambience for tourists to explore the nation’s diverse culture, the federal government under the Ministry for Information and Culture is planning to engage foreign investors that will develop the sector.
This is more so, considering the growing desire for rural areas to play a key role in easing pressures experienced by urban residents. To achieve this, the federal government is aiming at adopting the WTD platform in advancing the natural endowments across the nation.
In his view, Enugu State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Ugonna Ibe said, Nigeria is a member of the global community and signatory to so many United Nations treaties and laws, adding that the day was set aside to celebrate countries potential as regards tourism. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has set September 27, of every year to celebrate World Tourism Day(WTD) and reflect on it.
“It will not be proper that we stand aloof and watch other parts of the world celebrate WTD 2021 with the ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth,” he added.
Ibe who spoke with THEWILL noted that “We are in a better position to clamour for a day like this, because if you look at the word, tourism is all about movement of people from their place of abode to another place for the purposes of sight seeing, leisure and recreation.”
And on that note, he said, “We can attest that Nigeria is a multi ethnic society. therefore, we have so many things and each of the states in Nigeria has so many tourism endowments and different types of weather that makes it attractive for tourism destinations or sites to thrive; And so it pays as a country to be part of the world for this celebration because we have what it takes to move our nation and economy forward coming from tourism.”
To this end, he said, “Nigeria is currently experiencing security challenges, Kebbi and most of these northern states in Nigeria are somehow worst hit and tourism cannot thrive under security threat and it is natural that people should be scared and worried at the level of insecurity.”
On the other hand, he noted, Nigeria is a nation with people of diverse culture, languages, traditions and different ecosystem and Kebbi is one of the states in Nigeria and it is the interest of Nigeria to be part of this year’s celebration, because Nigerians should better identify and understand that tourism is the order of the day and would aid any economy grow.
In buttressing the claims, he added that “Kebbi has so many things to offer in terms of tourism potentials and the reason behind shifting this year’s celebration to Kebbi is to recreate the impression that there is nothing to be afraid of and Kebbi has potentials to offer as far as tourism is concerned, and as a government they have an image to protect that people should not be too frightful due to what they read on the internet because it is not often times as it is on ground when you go over there as it is reported on the internet. Kebbi has her own tourism potential and it is not out of place to showcase them using the platform of world tourism day.”
Talking on private sector engagement; Private sectors are part of the whole process because it will affect them in so many ways if tourism is thriving and making waves in the country. Hospitality, transportation, businesses in the rural communities would make profits and in which process the GDP of a nation like Nigeria will grow. The private sector should be part of the whole project of developing tourism and there should be laid down rules and regulations to that effect.
But then again, the government on their part has a duty to play in ensuring that those people who come into the industry to develop them should be given a soft landing and someone investing on a particular venture should be able to get return on investment and so in the area of taxation, the government should be able to give some sort of tax holiday for a period of years. The private sector can leverage for five years, ten years, without paying anything and that offer will make it attractive for the private sector to come in and invest. So it is a two way thing in the sense that the private sector has to see tourism as a viable business they can engage in. For example, in Nollywood today which many people are making a living through and it is about intellectual properties, these are areas the government has to create synergy with the private sector to make the tourism sector work.
Speaking on advising government to provide infrastructure; he stated, “The basic requirement of any government is to provide basic infrastructure in place such as good roads, electricity, and putting security in place, make business conducive and there is no way tourism can thrive in an insecure atmosphere, because other parts of the world making proper harvest from tourism is as a result of the government doing what is needed to be done by making sure they have good roads, good sanitization, electricity, but in the absence of these, I doubt if Nigeria will make headway. We as a country have our neck deep down on oil as the main source of revenue and this has been the bane of our country as far as the social, economic and political development is concerned. Until the government begins to diversify and look into alternatives of making life worth living, we cannot look forward.
He further advised the government at all levels to provide the necessities that make life meaningful. With these, WTD should give Nigerians an opportunity to reflect and not just celebrate but to make some meaning out of it that can make lives positive.