‘Tourism sector key in FG’s ongoing diversification of economy’
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the tourism sector in very key in the federal government’s ongoing diversification of the economy.
Speaking at the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators, NATOP Annual General Meeting in Calabar with the theme, “Nigeria Tourism: The missing link in a diversified economy, Lai Mohammed stated that in order to boost tourism and give it the required impetus in contributing to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, the federal
government has taken the ranking of tourism among the six priority sectors of the economy and the review of the National tourism policy 1990.
Others include the provision of attractive incentives for prospective investors, encouraging Public Private partnership and launching of the Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan.
The minister of information and Culture said in the days ahead, it shall be bringing all stakeholders together in Calabar to chart a definite path forward.
Alhaji Lai Muhhamed explained that apart from the enomous opportunities in the Nigeria Tourism sector, the country’s investment climate is very favourable.
He noted that the government largely battle against insecurity and the fight against corruption are all relevant to the discourse as they will contribute largely to the efforts to make our country a top destination in Africa, adding that the country has all it takes to be.
“With a vast land mass, a population of over 170 million, abundance of natural resources, scenic environment, diverse cultural heritage and hospitable disposition of the people, Nigeria has all that it takes to build a dynamic and resilient economy through tourism. As identified by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO in 2004, the comparative advantage of tourism as a development strategy for developing countries lies on these areas like, providing a wide range of employment opportunities, especially for women and young people with or without skills requring little training in some areas, creating opportunities for small and medium sized tourism enterprises either in the formal or for the small, medim sized tourism enterprises in the formal and informal sector”, the minister said.
In his welcome address, the President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators, NATOP, Mr. Nkereuwem Onung who was re-elected for another term in office stated that the conference has come at the right time when it appears that tourism is not a priority on the agenda of the present administration which is demostrated by the scrapping of the federal ministry of tourism.
He observed that this is also necessitated by the fact that despite the potential of Nigerian Tourism, the county’s tourism policy makers have not seen it as alternative to oil with an earning capacity of over $7billion annually.
The NCAA records $1.5billion was actually spent on international ticketing in 2013 alone with 6.6percent compound annual growth rate in number of hotel rooms nights in Nigeria, the 1.6 million rooms in 2014 is expected to be 2.2million room nights in 2019 (According to Jovago. Hotel Booking Portal), he said.
He expressed the hope that after the conference, NATOP will attempt to deliver on her manadate of contributing to the development and promotion of Nigerian tourism through through strong advocacy, policy implementation, engagement with government and other relevant bodies or persons within and outside the country.
Mr. Onung expressed sadness that after many years of weak attempt to market\promote the destination Nigeria in international fora and trade shows, Nigeria failed to show up in all international event last year without any explanation.
In her presentation on the role of creative industry in the development and promotion of Nigeria Tourism with reference to the National Council of Arts and Culture, NCAC’s mandate by its director general , Mrs. Dayo Keshi explained that over the last fourty years, the National Council of Arts and Culture has continued to leverage on Nigeria’s art crafts and culture to serve as a veritable resource for promoting national unity and integration as well as a catalyst for job and wealth creation.
According to her, this is achieved through its programs and activities, especially with its flagship, the annual National Festival of Arts and Culture, NAFEST involving all the states of the federations and FCT.
She disclosed that the NCAC beyound scalling up the expo and introducing new innovations to make NAFEST better organised, more attractive and crowd pulling has ambitious plans to introduce more festials between now and 2017 like National Durbar, National Boat Regatha Festivals, National Masquerade Festival, Festival of Nigerian Contemporary Arts, National Folks Songs Festival and Traditional Textiles and Fashion Fair.
In his keynote speech, Professor Pat Utomi said the collapse of oil is even a gift from heaven which will make the country look at other sources of revenue generation.
Prof. Utomi advised the federal government to make quick fix plans by catching the low hanging fruits like tourism, selling culturebefore the long term Agricultural plans mature.
He said if our culture if better managed will generate enough income for the country.
Utomi stressed the need to clean up our coastlines to attract foreign tourists which The Gambia is reaping from.
L-R Director General National Council of Arts and Culture Mrs. Dayo Keshi and Prof Pat Utomi , the keynote speaker at the event at the NATOP Annual General Meeting in Calabar with the theme, “Nigeria Tourism: The missing link in a diversified economy.