Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alh Lai Mohammed (4th right, front row), Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Folorunso Coker (4th left) and others during the working visit by the minister to the Corporation
By Our Correspondent
Tourism is life and life is tourism. The two are inseparable, because everything about life is tourism.
This industry has been sustaining the economy of some countries that know their importance to economic growth and development. Among the countries that have made a fortune out of the industry are Malta, Croatia,Thailand, Jamaica and Iceland.
The World Travel and Tour Council (WTTC) says that in 2018, that tourism industry grew faster than the global economy for the eighth successive year, with 3.9% for travel and tour and 3.2% for GDP, adding that it is the second fastest growing industry in the world, ahead of health,information technology and financial services counterparts.
The importance of tourism to the economic development can’t be treated with disregard. This sector seems to have over the time been suffering from neglect in Nigeria irrespective of untapped potentials there – in. An adage has it that your morning starts when you wake up. Perhaps, the country has decided to wake up so as to tap from the potentials and one may be right to say that a working visit from the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji LaiMohammed to Folorunso Coker will move the industry to expected level.
In order to make something out of this sector for Nigerians, as the country is so blessed with it, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made a working tour to the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), an agency, under his ministry,which is saddled with the responsibility of development of the sector.
The Minister, while addressing journalists assured Nigerians of his ministry’s readiness to collaborate with NTDC toward harnessing potentials in the industry. He saw tourism as a fast-growing sector, which according to him needs to be strengthened and to its full potentials for growth and development of Nigeria. He therefore added that the industry would out compete oil and gas in the nearest future, as the Federal Government (FG) has taken bold steps to explore potentials in the industry.
“Tourism is not just sight seeing, but an entire creative industry and so when talking about tourism, we are talking about food,music, fashion, film, monument, photography and many others. The mandate of NTDC Act is to develop, promote, market tourism in Nigeria and bring people to invest there – in. FG believes that in the nearest future, the industry will be the next oil in Nigeria and when the oil dries up, the industry which is our music, fashion, films and heritage sites will remain fresh and attract people into the country,” he stated.
On the plans of the FG in the sector, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “We had a very serious talk with the Director – General, DG and we have gone through their challenges. We have also tried to proffer solution to all the challenges, but what is important is to realize that at NTDC, we are sitting on the keg of unexplored potentialities and we have the mandate to harness a huge potential and attract people to Nigeria.
“Ours is a country of colours with about 250 ethnic groups. We have almost all round good weather and have been blessed with film industry which is number two in the entire world. We have been blessed with the music industry that globally and this is why NTDC is important and we need to attract tourists to come and see what Nigeria can offer. This sector is the fastest – growing one in Nigeria economy today, having employed over 1 million people, with the capacity to employ several millions.
“Our film industry is the least tapped today and we have about 53 cinema houses with less than 200 screens, with a population of 200 million people. We need a thousand cinema houses and at least 6,000 screens.Our music is growing and last year we made about $51 millions dollar. Our fashion is growing and the beauty of this creative industry is that it employs people more than any other sector apart from agriculture and the people that it employed were largely the youth. This is why NTDC needs to work even more with the ministry, so that we can actualize the potentials of this industry.”
In an address, the DG, Folorunsho Folarin Coker hailed the Minister’s visit. He saw the visit as apt, which according to him will go a long way to boost the industry.
“The ‘Tour Nigeria’ project, has driven domestic consumption of tourism assets and products in Nigeria; created new channels of tourism markets as well as generated employment. The brand has restored hope and excitement amongst Nigerians, exploring limitless domestic tourism products in the country. Also the
‘Nigerian Flavour’ initiatives have showcased the diverse gastronomy of Nigeria and promoted Abuja as a destination for fun, hospitality,and relaxation,” he said, even as he stressed that the 5-point action plan initiative called CHIEF was to grow the industry and build a foundation for an attractive destination industry, making for domestic and international tourists.
According to WTTC again, “in 2018, this sector has among others: contributed $8.8 trillion to global economy and created 319 million jobs globally; generated 10.4% of global economic activities and it is responsible for one in five of all new jobs created in the world over the last five years