Expert proffers solution to tourism problems

A tourism expert, Mr. Ikechi Ukoh has called on the government to revisit the nation’s tourism master plan, with the view of transforming the economy. He disclosed this in Ibadan during the 40th yearly general meeting of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA). The event, which held recently, had as theme, Developing a Sustainable Tourism Plan for Nigeria.

Ukoh blamed government of not showing enough commitment to the sector in the past. “Many successive governments in the country had paid lip service to the development of tourism, except the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,’’ he said.

While saying that the nation needed to revisit the master plan to address the clusters and assumptions to yearly growth of tourism, Ukoh listed some of the basic things to be addressed as the VISA regime, national carrier and the national calendar of events.

His words: “Government must join the African Union’s (AU) VISA policy, which allows African nationals to obtain VISA’s on arrival in any African country of destination.

“Any country that will record growth in its tourism sector must have a national carrier. So also, we must have a national calendar of festivals to promote tourism,’’ he said.

Ukoh added that the nation needed to have a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) to monitor the statistics of tourists in the country.

He said that the African Development Bank (ADB) had rated Nigeria as the third largest country in Africa behind Kenya and Ethiopia, where tourism was the largest employer of labour.

He said that domestic tourism was the only embraced in Nigeria, adding that tourism was seen as leisure than business in the country.

The initiator of AKWABA, one of the major tourism events that unite
African countries, said that travel agencies and hotels could help a lot in the development of tourism.

In his address, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State commended the association for its roles and contributions towards projecting the tourism potentials of the country to the world, likewise the development of the tourism sector.

Ajimobi, who was represented by Dr. Bashir Olanrewaju, the permanent secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism said that the theme was very important.

He said this was so, because the nation was in dire need of diversification of the economy due to the dwindling revenue from oil.

The governor noted that no country of the world could afford to ignore the significance of tourism to its economic, social and cultural development, adding that the state was blessed with many natural and man-made endowments, likewise several festivals.

“Among our unique cultural festivals are, Twins Festival in Igboora, Oke’Badan Festival in Ibadan, Oranyan Festival and World Sango Festival in Oyo town, Beere festival in Saki and Odoje/Ebo-Oba Ijeru Festival in Ogbomoso.

“The twins festival in Igboora is celebrated, because the town has large concentration of twin births. There is no household in the town that does not have twins,’’ he said.

He called for adequate consideration of natural and man-made endowments in Oyo State for tourism plan in the country to be sustainable and yield maximum return on investments.

Also, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture said that the federal government was ready to develop the nation’s tourism and aviation’s potentials in attracting more for economic growth.

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