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Experts canvass right policies to drive tourism development

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Chief Executive Officer, Transcorp Hotels Plc, Valentine Ozigbo

Given Nigeria’s numerous potential, experts have said the tourism sector can contribute up to 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), if the right policies were put in place.

They noted that the GDP had hovered between 1.5 and 1.8 per cent for the past eight years, arguing that there would be sporadic growth in the sector if government created the enabling environment for businesses to thrive even as they allow the private sector to lead development.

Speaking at the 2018 Tourism and Hospitality Forum, organised by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Lagos, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Transcorp Hotels Plc, Valentine Ozigbo, who commended efforts by the present administration to contribute to the growth of the sector, however, said a lot is still needed to boost the sector.

He cited issues of multiple taxes by airlines, difficulties involved in building a new standard hotel in Nigeria, and lack of materials outsourced locally as every material has to be foreign, and a host of others.

Ozigbo, noting that domestic tourism covers every aspect of life, as its importance cannot be underscored, also said government could reduce these bottlenecks if there were proper impetus through putting the right structure in place, and devoting a significant part of the budget for developments.

He said: “One of the things to drive the growth of the sector is the responsibility of government, while we do marketing destination. Governors should be the chief marketing officers of their various states. Marketing destination is paramount, government needs to spend money, and need to consider tourism as an important ministry.

“They should create the enabling environment and seat back and allow the private sector to lead the development and when this is done in a sporadic manner, you will see sporadic growth in the sector.”

Similarly, the President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard, who spoke on: “Transportation and the Growth of Domestic Tourism,” said there was a need for government to create an enabling environment to create room for the survival of domestic carriers, as this aspect of tourism needs to be adequately taken care of.

“On the total cost of ticketing in Nigeria, the taxes cover about 60 per cent, the remaining 40 per cent is what is left for the carrier to take home. How you do think such airline would survive? which means it will be difficult for them, as 60 per cent has gone to the government, and the 40 per cent that would support local carrier is not there, and if that is not there, the domestic airlines cannot survive,” he argued.

Earlier, the Committee Chairman, IoD Tourism and Hospitality, Biodun Jaji, said there was a need for sustained public-private partnership and investment for the development of domestic tourism in Nigeria over the next 10 to 20 years.

According to Jaji, tourism’s economic activities effectively improve the livelihood of the people through income generation, employment creation, improved infrastructure, increased standard of living, and increased government revenue.

He said sustained investment in tourism is in line with the diversification agenda of the Federal Government, and charged Government on the development of tourism over the next 20 years.


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