The Chairman, Project Tourism, Prince Ned Munir Nwoko ( 9th Left); President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria( FTAN) Alhaji Rabo Saleh (8th Left), Actress Eucheria Anunobi (10th Left) with others during the media lunch of Project Tourism held at BON Hotel Elvis, Abuja recently.
By Abbanobi-Eku Onyeka
Tourism, experts say, has become a veritable source of income in most countries of the world. The Manila Declaration on World Tourism of 1980 recognized its importance as “an activity essential to the life of nations because of its direct effects on the social, cultural, educational, and economic sectors of national societies and on their international relations.”
This sector, experts agree “brings large amounts of income into a local economy in the form of payment for goods and services needed by tourists, accounting as of 2011 for 30% of the world’s trade in services, and for 6% of overall exports of goods and services.”
According to them, tourism also generates opportunities for employment in the service sector of the economy associated with tourism.
But despite its potentials to impact gainfully on the economy of nations, successive governments in Nigeria have failed to give this money spinning sector a pride of place.
Perhaps, it is against this backdrop that the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and Linas International Limited, an organization reputed with great passion for tourism, recently launched ‘Project Tourism’ apparently to breathe life into the seemingly comatose tourism sector in the country.
The project which was launched in Bon Hotel Elvis, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was attended by several experts in the tourism industry.
The brochure made available to journalists, shows that the project is divided into different segments – Culture Village, Grassroots Sports Development, Host Family Scheme and Global Road Show.
In the Culture Village, the promoters of Project Tourism will concentrate on identification and establishment of three acknowledged hubs of Culture Tourism in each state of the federation;building of centres on already established and existing monuments, arts and sites, selection of villages or cities for the Culture Villages that currently have natural cum acknowledged monuments, historical sites and arts, among others;.
Other components include the location of tourism assets; ensuring their safety and accessibility and encouragement of growth of tourism, using cultural contents.
According to the promoters of Project Tourism, Grassroots Sports Development will involve identifying, nurturing, encouraging, managing, and promoting talents in all areas of sports at the grass roots level, including summer school camps.
Furthermore, this area also includes developing sports tourism nationally, e.g, football, athletes, boxing, gymnastics, and shooting, swimming, among others, to encourage, promote and sustain periodic sports competitions.
The aim of going into Grassroots Sports Development, the promoters of the new scheme say, is to produce sports stars that will complete and excel for Nigeria.
The Host Family Scheme aims at promoting tourism by capturing and satisfying specific tourism interests and making tourists feel at home even when they are not at home.
The Scheme will include the publication of Who is Who – a compendium of notable Nigerians; sites known as home away from home – that will provide a protected, relaxed and conducive atmosphere while away from your home – to be used as source of information for potential tourists to Nigeria.
The Global Road Show will focus on exhibition of tourism assets of the country. It will showcase tourism products of manufacturers, leading business men and women; hoteliers, airlines, transporters and entrepreneurs.
It will also parade notable Nollywood and sports stars, Nigerian celebrities; offering opportunity to agencies of the government to showcase their tourism products and potentials; creation of room for meeting with potential investors in tourism; facilitating and showcasing of their tourism assets to local and international community by various states in the country and ; encourage traffic.
Earlier in his welcome address the coordinator of the project, Chief E. O. Anumba, who equally represented the Director-General (DG) NTDC, Folorunsho Coker, said the project would among other things project tourism assets of the country and run profitable projects that will highlight the country’s hospitality culture and her rich cultural endowments.
According to him, the project would encourage Nigerians not only to win vacations, but also expose her cultural heritage to the world.
He further said the project was geared toward allowing tourists exchange students and the like, gets a first-hand experience of Nigeria’s tourism offering by taking up rural residences among Nigerian communities.
In his speech, Prince Chinedu (Ned) Nwoko, founder of Linas International Limited, a lawyer, politician and successful businessman, noted that the essence of the project was to promote the rich tourism assets of the country.
On the impact of the sector to the economy, Nwoko informed that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) confirmed in January 21, 2019 that global international tourists’ arrival (overnight) visitors increased from 6% to 1.4 billion in in 2018 above 3.7% growth registered in the global economy.
He said that out of this number, the Middle East has (+10%), Africa, (+7%), Asia and the Pacific and Europe (both stood at (+6%).
The Americas, the report said, were below the world average (+3%}, adding that growth by region on arrival during the period under review, Europe had 713 million arrivals, while the Asia and the Pacific had 343 million international tourists.
Africa’s North and sub-sahara share of the number came to 67 million and the Middle East showed solid results with international arrivals, reaching 64 million.
Prince Nwoko, however, harped on the need for Nigerians at all levels to join hands to promote and project tourism so as to tap from its huge potentials.