Tourism Critical To Federal Government’s Diversification Efforts——-Lai Mohammed

Minister of ‎Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the Nigerian tourism industry is very critical to the Federal Government’s ongoing diversification of the economy.
He spoke at the Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) Annual General Meeting (AGM) with the theme, “Nigeria Tourism: The Missing Link In A Diversified Economy in Calabar.
The minister stated the Federal Government has ranked tourism among the six priority sectors of the economy and to review of the National tourism policy 1990 to boost tourism and give it the required impetus in contributing to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Others include the provision of attractive incentives for prospective investors, encouraging Public Private Partnership (PPP) and launching of the Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan.
He stated that in the days ahead, tourism stakeholders would in Calabar to discuss the way forward.
Lai Muhammed pointed out that apart from the fact that Nigeria has huge opportunities in the Nigeria tourism sector, the country’s investment climate, he added is very favourable.
He noted that the government fight against insecurity and corruption are all relevant to the discourse as they would contribute largely to the efforts to making the country the preferred destination in Africa.

According to him, “With a vast land mass, a population of over‎ 170 million, abundance of natural resources, scenic environment, diverse cultural heritage and hospitable disposition of the people, Nigeria has all that it takes to build a dynamic and resilient economy through tourism. As identified by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation(UNWTO) in 2004, the comparative advantage of tourism as a development strategy for developing countries lies on these areas like, providing a wide range of employment opportunities, especially for women and young people with or without skills requiring little training in some areas, creating opportunities for small and medium sized tourism enterprises either in the formal or for the small, medium sized tourism enterprises in the formal and informal sector.”
The President of NATOP, Mr. Nkereuwem Onung,who was re-elected for another term in office, stated that the conference has come at the right time when it appears that tourism was not a priority on the agenda of the present administration which was demonstrated by the scrapping of the Federal Ministry of Tourism.
He noted that it was also necessitated by the fact that despite the potential of Nigerian tourism‎, the county’s tourism policy makers have not seen it as alternative to oil despite its earning capacity of over $7billion annually.
He stated that after the conference, NATOP would attempt to deliver on its mandate of contributing to the development and promotion of Nigerian tourism through through strong advocacy, policy implementation, engagement with government and other relevant bodies or persons within and outside the country.
‎ Onung lamented that after many years of weak attempt to market and promote Nigeria as a destination in international fora and trade shows‎, Nigeria has not been able to explain while she did not take part in all the international tourism events organised in 2015.
Delivering his keynote address, Professor Pat Utomi ‎ advised the Federal Government to make quick fix plans by catching the low hanging fruits like tourism, selling culture before the long term Agricultural plans mature.
He said that the collapse of oil would make the country look at other sources of revenue generation, adding that culture if well managed would generate enough income for the country.
Utomi stressed the need for Nigeria to clean up her coastlines ‎to attract foreign tourists, stressing that the Gambia for example was already from this venture.