Harnessing the potentials in the tourism sector
No doubt, the country has huge tourism potentials but for this all important sector to be productive and add value to the economy of the country, there must be a pragmatic policy that will improve the sector.
That the tourism sector is a goldmine waiting to be tapped and has the potentials to contribute to the growth of the economy is a truism that is not contestable. There are numerous natural tourism areas in nooks and crannies of the country and such potentials when adequately harnessed will in no small measure increase the revenue base of the country. This position was reiterated by the former President of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Dr. Samuel Nzekwe, who said Nigeria can generate N1.2 trillion from tourism yearly, if adequate infrastructure is provided. Dr. Nzekwe who stated this in Lagos recently noted that government needs to improve on the state of the infrastructure such as roads, power supply and security.
Dr. Nzekwe further said, “All over the world, tourism is a big revenue earner to governments and infrastructure can create the enabling environment for this to happen”. According to him, Nigeria is capable of generating a quarter of its total annual revenue from tourism, if the sector is well managed adding that “Brazil, United Kingdom, Kenya and Egypt earn a lot of revenue from tourism”.
It is obvious that the country has numerous areas that can be developed into centres for tourism like the Ikogosi Warm Spring water; where warm and cold water springs ooze out and touch, yet retaining its potent identity, tropical forest, Ekiti State, Yankari Game Reserve, Wikki Warm Springs, in Bauchi State, Kainji Lake Game Reserve, in Niger and Kwara States. Others are the Argungu Fishing Festival, Sokoto State, Obudu Cattle Ranch, Cross River State, Idanre hills with 667 steps and five resting posts before getting to the top, the Osun Osogbo groove, Osun State, Ebomi Lake, Igbo Olodumare, Deji of Akure’s Palace which the Federal Government declared a National Monument in 1990, the Mambilla Plateau which the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke described as Nigeria’s “Crown Jewel of Tourism”; are places that can attract tourists from across the world.
No doubt, the country has huge tourism potentials but for this all important sector to be productive and add value to the economy of the country there must be a pragmatic policy that will improve the sector. Indeed, there is need to emulate France that has put policy in place that will drive the tourism sector from now till 2020. Or, Dubai that has tourism projection of 300 billion dirhams, the United Arab Emirate’s currency; a plan they intend to achieve through the construction of 160,000 hotel rooms that will attract more than 20 million tourists from the present 10 million tourists that visit the country by 2020. What is the tourism plan of Nigeria? In 2012, Kenya raked in a whopping sum of 98 billion Shillings ($1.119 billion) from her tourism sector alone, but the tourism sector which supposed to be a money spinner in Nigeria, contributed a paltry three per cent to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product in 2012!
At the moment, Nigeria is not a tourism destination as a result of insecurity that plagues the country with incessant killings of innocent people in some parts of the north, and kidnapping in the south and these would discourage tourists from visiting the country. In this regard, government at all levels should create an enabling environment for industries to thrive so as to create jobs for the myriad of the unemployed. This will undoubtedly curb insecurity in the country and encourage tourists to come in.
Also, lack of infrastructure is another factor militating against the tourism sector. Decrepit infrastructures will not encourage foreign direct investment in the sector. Without belabouring the fact, incessant road accidents due to poor roads networks are albatross to tourism as tourists hardly visit countries with prevalent road accidents.
The Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC), should collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation to ensure the rapid development of the tourism industry. Tourism is a money spinner which will increase the revenue base and create employment for the teeming population of the unemployed. However, if the prevailing security situation is not adequately checkmated, the tourism sector will remain comatose.