Economic diversification: Runsewe calls for specific attention on tourism
The former director general of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe has stressed that specific attention must be placed on the tourism sector in the process of diversification of the economy.
Speaking at the recent New Telegraph Economic forum with the theme, Nigeria : Beyound the Oil Economy, Runsewe noted that the neglected sectors like Agriculture, manufacturing, mining, solid minerals among others must be strengthened in order to evolve and consolidate the economic base of the nation.
Runsewe who spoke on the topic “our heritage, our destination in a new economy” stated that tourism offers one of the greatest options to the country’s economy in an effort to diversify the economy.
The former NTDC boss observed that total dependence on crude oil exportation as the source of foreign exchange has greatly slowed down the pace of development in other sub sectors of the economy such as Agro Allied industry, manufacturing, solid minerals among others.
He pointed out that when he was the director general of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, that he alerted the country of the dangers of over dependence on oil with a policy thrust encapsulated in the slogan Oil is good, but tourism is better because oil is exhaustible while tourism is sustainable and environment friendly.
In the area of religious tourism, Runsewe said Nigeria is increasingly becoming a hub of religious tourism in Africa as a lot of religious activities take place on a regular basis in the country.
He explained that many of the religious activities take place on a regular basis in Nigerian drawing participants from different parts of the world.
“Some good examples are the annual convention of the Living Faith Church and the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos. For instance, statistics of the 2010 Living Faith Convention which took place between December 7and 12, 2010 indicated that 56 countries of the world participated in the programme. The participants came from both Africa and many other parts of the world such as United States of America, Canada, Malaysia, Denmark, France, Australia among other countries. Similarly, a lot of domestic and international tourists throng into Prophet TB Joshua ‘s Synagogue Church of All Nations for worship and deliverance on a regular basis”, Runsewe said.
He emphasised that the current economic challenges facing Nigeria and the change agenda of President Muhammadu geared towards repositioning Nigeria may just be what is needed to launch the country to the new dawn of economic prosperity.
He stressed that, “this why we must work with Mr. President and the administration in repositioning Nigeria as key player in world economy”.
According to him, Nigeria is a multi -ethnic, multi religious state and multi cultural nation state with over 350 distinct ethnic nationalities with each of the ethnic groups having unique cultural heritage, thus making Nigeria the most culturally diverse nation in black Africa.
The former NTDC boss stated that Nigeria has a comparative advantage over other African countries in cultural tourism, adding that many of the cultural festivals in Nigeria have gained international prominence and have continued to capture the fancy of international audience.
In the area of beach tourism, he disclosed that the country is blessed with over 700 kilometres coastline covered with un-polluted sand and beaches.
Runsewe maintained that the country has not been able to translate her enormous potentials to national development, stressing that Nigeria like Dubai remains a world economic wonder, waiting to be discovered.