THE Federal Government on Tuesday said it was working with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, toward the full implementation of the Tourism Master Plan, for the country. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this while speaking at the 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) in Lagos, said that the theme, “Tourism in a Recessed Economy -The Way Forward.”, was very relevant because of its implication for travel, trade and tourism now, and in the years ahead.
The minister, who was represented by Dr. Paul Adalikwu, acting Director-General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), said that the recession had negatively affected the industry.
According to him, it is in response to these challenges, amongst other things, that this administration is not relenting on its drive to diversifying the economy. “Tourism stands to be a major beneficiary of this initiative, as new investments, jobs and growth will be stimulated by the sector. The way forward for tourism in a recessed economy calls for partnerships, creativity and innovation, backed by a determination to succeed.
“On the part of the government, this administration has set in motion the process of fine-tuning all details toward creating an enabling environment for tourism in Nigeria, with a view to ensuring that the sector takes it rightful place in the economy.”
He said that apart from the implementation of the tourism master plan and attracting increased funding for the sector, the government was also working to put in place a tourism satellite account for the country. “Government’s determination to implement the tourism satellite account is to ensure that the actual contribution of tourism to the economy is properly captured, as well as to track the direct and indirect effects of tourists’ spending on outputs and job creation.”
Managing Director, Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole, said at the event that most countries in the world today depended on tourism as a major foreign exchange earner.
Bankole said governments at all levels and tourism practitioners should intensify efforts geared toward maximising the tourism potential of Nigeria. He also called for the establishment of a workable synergy between aviation and tourism sectors, as being practised by some countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia.
Dr Harold Demuren, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said that the fall in the global price of oil was a wake-up call for Nigeria to diversify its economy. Demuren noted that for tourism to thrive, the government must, however, ensure that there was peace, safety and security in the country.
Earlier, Mr Bernard Bankole, President,NANTA, had said that there was the need to find solutions to the various challenges being faced by the industry from economic meltdown.
On the sidelines of the AGM was the celebration of founding fathers NANTA like Mr. Babatunde Akala, Mr. Olufemi Adefope and Elder Jerry Nwosu for their contributions to the growth of the association.