At tourism seminar, stakeholders set agenda for government
ANJET Honours Practitioners, Inaugurates New Excos
The sub Saharan Africa is gradually shifting away from absolute reliance on commodities and moving towards innovation and the services sector. Therefore, it’s evident that tourism will be one of the most promising sectors in terms of economic growth, employment opportunities, poverty alleviation, investment opportunities and infrastructural development. The region is endowed with a rich diversity, unutilized resources, natural beauty, cultural heritage, historical sites, wildlife, safaris, beaches and deserts. In a nutshell, tourism is a low hanging fruit that provides the quickest turnaround compared to other sectors.
However, in spite of its numerous tourism potentials, Nigeria still ranks outside of the top ten international tourist arrivals in Africa. Besides, the World Economic Forum scores Nigeria 2.8 (on a scale of 1-7) and 129th in the world on its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. These statistics show that Nigeria needs to address some important problems if the dream of joining the league of top players in the sector will be achieved.
Rising from a one-day seminar on tourism in Lagos, stakeholders and operators in the Nigerian tourism sector have charged government at all levels to focus more on the tourism sector in order to achieve accelerated development of the country as the oil wealth is fast dwindling.
At the seminar organised by the Association of Nigerian Journaliats and Writers of Yoirism (ANJET), the Royal father of the day, the Olota of Otta, Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege, urged government and Nigerians to explore tourism potential for job creation.Speaking on the theme, Tourism and Jobs: Better future for all, Oba Obalanlege said Nigerians must stop depending on the government for job creation but get creative to groom most of the enormous tourism potential the country was endowed with.He said that festivals in each community could be developed by members of such communities to generate revenue while ensuring that the festivals were developed over the years to attract local and International tourists.
The royal father identified the Egungun masqurade festival as one of the tourism potential to latch upon, likewise the monumental buildings across communities, which could be converted to tourist’s sites.
“With the huge tourism potential we are blessed with in the country, we should not be complaining about lack of jobs; individuals must be creative and tap into these tourism potential. Nigerians need not look up to the government for job creation; government is only meant to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.”He observed, “The second tallest story building in Nigeria is in Otta; it should be better developed to attract international tourists. A lot more monumental buildings across communities can also be converted to tourists sites,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Gbenga Olowo, Managing Director, Sabre Network, West Africa, urged government to take the tourism industry seriously by providing sufficient budgetary allocation to the sector.Olowo, who was represented by Mr Mayowa Badewa, Deputy Zonal Director, Western Zone, Sabre Travel Network, said the tourism industry must be prioritised as huge employment opportunities could be derived from the sector.
He said other African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Gambia are doing well in tourism because they had been able to work on improved connectivity, good infrastructures, visa relaxation policy and more. He, however, urged Nigerian government to collaborate with the private sector to intensify efforts in fighting insecurity and terrorism.
“We are known to be the giant of Africa and Nigeria is not recorded in the list of the top 10 visited countries in Africa because we are not doing things correctly. Government should try to allocate huge revenue for the tourism industry annually because the returns will be in multiples at the end of the day.”He continued: “There are only two hanging lakes in the world, the one at Colorado, Untied States of America and the Ado Awaye hanging lake in Oyo, which is not well marketed for international recognition. The one in Colorado generates over a million visitors annually; we must let the world know what we have and encourage them to visit,” he said.
Also speaking, the President of La Campagne Trooicana Beach Resort, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, declared that the power of tourism sector in transforming a community, people and the country, is such that it can’t be neglected.He shared the story of how La Campagne has succeeded in transforming Ikegun community where the resort is based to one of the richest and fast developing localities in Nigeria. He recommended such a model to the Nigeria government and Nigerians, urging everyone to look inward and see where they have comparative advantage and latch on to it for the development of the people.
Speaking at the event, Victor Edosomwan, Managing Director, Vicwan Limited encouraged Nigerians to engage in critical thinking to ensure the tourism industry is improved to create jobs for the youths. He also urged Nigerian tour operators to collaborate with their international counterparts in order to woo more tourists into the country.
Ladi Jemi-Alade, who also spoke at the event, said Nigerians remained poor due to ignorance as most people lacked comprehension on areas to explore for wealth creation. He said the country has all it takes to make tourism businesses thrive, but the youths lack the necessary information to explore the industry.
“If Dubai can be doing exploits in tourism, as a city on a desert, Nigeria can do far better with all our endowments. As a country, we do not appreciate what we have; we have to look inwards to develop our tourism industry and the youths should be ready to learn and explore.”
“We have lots of endowments in the tourism sector but we as a people believe so much that made in America is better than made in Nigeria. We can’t get there if we don’t change our narrative and start developing our own tourism potentials to help us to create wealth because tourism is a business and not a social Affairs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the seminar was an opportunity for ANJET to honour deserving stakeholders and operators in the tourism sector. The event also witnessed the inauguration of the new executive and patrons of the tourism writers’ association.
Among those honoured at the event include the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, a patron of the association, and Chief Samuel Alabi of Eko Hotels and Suites, who is also a patron of the association and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN). Both men were celebrated for their immense contributions to the development of the association and wellbeing of its members.
Also honoured was Tope Ogbeni Awe, CEO of Topcomm, who was the pioneer leader of the association, as well as Ikechi Uko, publisher of ATQNews and organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Accra Weizo and Jabamah. The newly elected executive members of the association include John Omololu Olumuiywa, publisher of Travelscope Magazine, as president; Franklin Ihijerika, publisher of Nigerianfranknews.com, as vice president; Ekene Okafor of VOA as treasurer; and Samson Ayuk of Naijatrip as secretary. Also sworn in as patrons of the association are Nkwereuwem Onunge of Remlords Tours; Bankole Bernard, president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA); and Allen Onyema, Chairman/CEO of Air Peace.
Others are The DGs of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folorunsho Folarin – Coker; and National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Momoh M. Kabir; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Ladi Jemi – Alade of Jemi – Alade Tours; Alhaji Saleh Rabo, president of FTAN; and HRM Oba (Professor) Adeyemi Obalanlege, Olota of Otta, Ogun State, as well as Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, founder of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort.
No comments yet