EXPLOITING TOURISM AS VERITABLE TOOL FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Luqmon Balogun, Lagos

Nigeria is endowed with enormous tourism potentials. The country’s landscape is adorned with waterfalls, caves, sandy beaches, lakes and lots of historical sites.

The tourism sector had in the past contributed significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provided employment for many.

Regrettably, less attention has been paid to the sector since the 1960s when crude oil became the country’s foreign exchange earner. Successive governments have not demonstrated enough commitment to the development of the sector.

However, the present government has pledged its determination to transform the nation’s tourism sector and also restore the lost glory of the other sectors that were sources of revenue before the discovery of petroleum in the country.tourism 2

And in a renewed drive to make tourism sector a priority, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has launched several campaigns to revive the nation’s tourism sector for economic development.

The emphasis is on how the tourism sector could be developed to provide over seventy-five million jobs. This was based on the premise that currently, the movie sector, known as Nollywood as well as the music sector jointly provide employment for over two million people, thus making it one of the largest employers of labour.

Nollywood was rated the third most valuable industry in the world, generating revenue of about one-point seven-two trillion Naira, contributing about one-point four percent to GDP in 2013.

Interestingly, all states in Nigeria have more than one tourism products to offer to prospective visitors. Nigeria is known for its natural landmarks and wildfire reserves. There are Safari destinations such as Yankari National Park in the Northeast State of Bauchi, which showcases waterfalls, dense rainforest, savannah and rare primate habitats.

There is also the Obudu cattle ranch in Cross River State, Port Harcourt Tourist Beach, Tinapa Free Zone, Osun-Osogbo Grove, Ogbunike Caves, Idanre Hill, all in southern Nigeria. Warri in Delta State also in Southern Nigeria is a home of comedy, a big aspect of art and tourism sector that can be explored and developed.

Governments at the at all levels must collaborate to take tourism in Nigeria to its next level by creating a tourism calendar in order to ensure a more organized system.

Government must also partner the private sector by encouraging individuals and corporate organizations to invest in and promote tourism.

All tourist sites in the country which are in various stages of disrepair should be given face-lift as part of a general infrastructure development.

Also, peace and security must be guaranteed across the country to assure intended tourists and investors of their safety and profit on their investments.

 

A.E