AGAIN, experts in the Nigerian tourism industry have emphasized the potentialitiea of the industry to generate huge revenue for Nigeria, alleviate poverty, created job and infuse unity among Nigerians, if it is well managed by the Federal government.
They identified the money-spinning sector as a veritable option for sustainable development as Nigeria grapples with the challenges of the revenue depletion.
The tourism experts made submissions at the maiden edition of Destination Tourism Night, organized by Travelogue Communication Limited, and themed: “Connecting Tourism Values”, held at Eko Hotels, Lagos State, recently.
The Chief Executive Officer of OYASAF and guest speaker at the event, Engr. Yemisi Adedoyin Shllyon, stated in his speech that the direct economic contributions of travel and tourism worldwide amounted to approximately $2.16 trillion in 2013.
His words: “Our tourism infrastructure is in very poor state. The tourism values are not there; they are missing in our country Nigeria.
“Language is part of our tourism values and assets. Many of our children do not speak our language any more. It is better for you to train up your children in your local language as it makes them have a very high IQ and understanding science. This has been proven by the Indian and Asian countries. All our cultural values have been thrown into the sea. We have devalued our culture.
“There are bad aspects our culture and the good values in our culture. Let us purify our culture and by so doing sustain the good part of our culture. Any nation that has not built up the values of their culture does not have a prime of place in the comity of tourism nations.”
Shllyon while saying that in the Manila Declaration on World Tourism in 1980, described Tourism as an activity that is essential to the life of nation because of its direct and indirect effects on the social, cultural, educational and economic sectors of a nation.
He noted that the uniqueness of tourism as an important sector is also evident in its ability to employ skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manpower, and economic and energy crises in various parts of the world, international trade in tourism revenue has grown in geometric progression since the 1980.
In a brief chat with ReportersAtLarge, the former Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Cooperation (NTDC) and founder, The Sally Mbanefo Foundation, Mrs. Sally Uwechue-Mbanefo, disclosed that her NGO has been working with the youth since 2007 and is ready to partner with organisations to further encourage the youth and empower them.
A strong advocate of domestic tourism and local content development, Sally Mbanefo added that her NGO is partnering with the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) to grow young entrepreneurs, while calling for investment in human capital.
She lauded the organisers of the event, while encouraged the Nigerian youth to have passion, integrity, imbibe a culture of discipline, hard work, determination, perseverance and delayed gratification, to enable them succeed in life.
Also speaking at the event, the First Traditional Female Talking Drummer in Nigeria, Miss Aralola Olamuyinwa, said that tourism can even promote Nigeria’s global perception and create friends and allies for the country as one of world’s tourist destination.
“Around the country are tourism sites and attractions that if properly managed, could augmented Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings which depend mainly on oil.”
Apart from the foreign exchange earnings for the country, Olamuyinwa said the sector can generate 250 million jobs annually.
The First Queen of Drum said that the areas of need for tourism to thrive include development and improvement of infrastructure, strengthening security to enhance investor’s confidence, especially against terrorism and kidnapping.
She noted that to promote tourism in Nigeria, most cultural events in different parts of the country could also be transformed to become tourist attractions.
“For the tourism sector to meet the country’s development expectations, the government should provide a more conductive environment for investors and potential tourist,” she added.
The Chief Executive Officer of Travelogue Communication Limited, Mr. Ayo Omotoso, said there is urgent need to build a resilient and dynamic economy that is well placed to harness the country’s abundant resource endorsement.
He described Nigeria’s experiences in the past three decades as clearly highlighting the shortcomings of a development strategy that placed a premium on foreign exchange earnings from non-renewable natural resources, especially oil and natural resources.
He said that the economic and social challenges, which the county has been experiencing from the 70s is connected to the fall on international oil prices.