My vision for tourism in Nigeria
Sir: As expected, international tourism has taken a nosedive due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. However, my research at Eastern Nigeria Tourism Enterprise Resource Centre (ENTER) has led to the development of a viable strategic blue print which would compliment the federal and state governments efforts and probably be an alternative to crude oil which has been a mono economic source of earning foreign exchange for Nigeria.
Due to time and space constraints, I may not go into the details of the project here, which is quite elaborate. However, when fully implemented, this strategy has the ability or potential to create at least 1000 initial jobs in states in South-South and South-East Nigeria comprising of Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Abia, Imo as well as Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra states. States like Ondo, Kogi, Bauchi (Yankari Games Reserve) and Osun can also key into this strategy. It highlights already existing natural endowments awaiting full scale domestic and international tourism utilisation. These are the areas that international tourism development experts seek to provide financing for full construction and implementation of low hanging tourism fruits projects for maximum job creation and effective youth engagement. It is not worthy that this strategy can be employed even under this pandemic and also during the post pandemic era. Therefore, it has a multi-perspective dimension that is flexible in nature.
My interest indeed is three fold. First to generate local employments for our youths. Second, to generate revenue for federal, state and even local governments. And finally to create entrepreneurs and build small businesses around the tourism value chain in Nigeria. My eleven years of continuous engagement as an internationally certified tourism operator in the United States of America and locally with Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) gave me a bird’s eye view that underscored this research. From it, l was able to deduce that all these states mentioned and many more others have viable international tourism potentials that can be positively tapped into and exploited for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders. It has the potential to help states generate what l call ‘’voluntary internally generated revenue.’’ By this l mean the kind of revenue that comes from happy tourists who indirectly raise the revenue base of a state. It is heartwarming that this effort has received the endorsement of many notable people who are concerned about the welfare of our youths. This includes of recent his Royal Majesty, Dr Patrick Acholonu, the Igwe of Orlu Ancient Kingdom of Imo State, who has called on governors of beneficiary states to explore effective ways to derive maximum mileage from this free and cost effective project for the benefit of unemployed youths. As l always say, we all can contribute our own little quota in our respective areas of competence to make Nigeria a great nation.
Chibuzor Ephraim Onyema is the chief executive officer of Elastic Holdings.
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