At NIHOTOUR lecture, experts list conditions for tourism development
Former Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh, has emphasised the relationship between a safe destination, economic growth and foreign direct investments, noting that friendly environment is a prerequisite for influx of tourists for either business or leisure.
Momoh was speaking in his capacity as the guest speaker at the recently held 2018 Annual Master Lecture Series organized by National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR).
With the theme, ‘Safe Destination: A Panacea for Foreign Direct Investments’, Momoh charged the government to address the problem of insecurity squarely so as to enable the country to compete favourably with other nations in the global tourism market.
Other factors that are imperative in making Nigeria a destination of choice for foreign investments according to Momoh, include friendly environment, legal protection for foreign investors, friendly visa regime as well as favourable tax policy.
His words: “An investment friendly environment, enhancement of foreign investors’ legal protection, streamlining of procedures for business visas and entry of foreign workers, reforming land policy and administration as well as deepening tax reforms should be created by the government to make Nigeria a safe destination for investors and increase inflow of foreign direct investments to Nigerian economy.”
The speaker added that going by its market size and cheap labour cost, Nigeria should have qualified as a great destination for foreign investments. Unfortunately, he decried, no business or enterprise thrives in a tensed and insecure environment.
“This has serious implications for direct investments, economic growth and development”, he added.
In his welcome address, the Acting Director General, NIHOTOUR, Alhaji Momoh A.M. Kabir, accepted that though the country was being confronted with numerous challenges, yet, it could not be totally wished away among tourism destinations because of its natural endowments and hospitable people.
“Yes, we have security challenges but Nigeria by its nature is not a country that you can simply do without. That is what I have come to realize.
“Nigeria by its strategic position in Africa, its natural and human endowments as well as the hospitable nature of its people, is a country that you cannot just wish away.
“No matter the degree of criticism from all over the world, you just realize that people keep coming to Nigeria. And that is the way it should be. The issue is that the country is making efforts to ameliorate the security situation that we have now. We may not have gotten to the best level yet but efforts are being made”, Kabir said.
Adding: “In any case, there is no country in the world that does not experience one problem or the other. So, Nigeria is not an exception. One thing that stands the country out is its peculiarity from the rest of the world, which is the reason I believe that there is no place like Nigeria.”
The Acting D.G insisted that one sector that could be effectively utilized in the country is tourism. According to him, there was virtually any activity that was not embedded in tourism.
“That translates to a multiplier effect. Aside revenue generation, local communities are also empowered. I am very optimistic that we will get the tourism sector working again.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Miss Grace Gekpe, who represented the Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, reminded the gathering that it was the duty of all Nigerians to make the country the ultimate tourism destination in Africa.
She therefore enjoined all to play a role in ensuring that Nigeria overcomes its numerous challenges.
The highlight of the day was the public presentation of books on tourism.
The publications comprised Book of Proceedings for the 2016 lecture series and a book of abstracts for the just held 2018 series.
Both editions treat several issues geared towards transforming the hospitality and tourism sector of Nigerian economy.