Amid dwindling economic fortunes of the Federal Government, experts in the hospitality industry, under the aegis of Association of Hotel Owners in Kwara State, have said the tourism sector has the potential of generating more money to government’s coffers than crude oil, if properly harnessed.
Therefore, the association has canvassed a synergy between the State and the Federal Governments in the development of tourist sites in various parts of the country.
The Chairman of Kwara State chapter of the association, Chief Michael Oyeyipo, disclosed this to reporters in Ilorin, the state capital, while briefing them on the activities lined up by the association to mark this year’s World Tourism Day.
“If you go to Obudu Cattle Resort, you will be surprised at what you find there. International tourists come there as a matter of course; sport enthusiasts from all over the world come there. I believe if the Federal Government allocates enough funds for the development of the sector, huge revenue will accrue to its coffers.
“The federal and state governments can jointly establish such a place all over the country and develop them. Dubai in the United Arabs Emirate was developed within a short time and it has become such a tourist attraction all over the world. Such feat can be achieved in Nigeria,” he said.
He also challenged the National Assembly to advise state governments to pay more attention to tourism development, adding that state governments should make tourism one of their policy thrusts.
He further said tourism had contributed immensely to enhanced internally-generated revenue (IGR) of many state governments. He cited Cross River’s Obudu Cattle Ranch, Bauchi’s Yankari Games Reserve and its Warm Springs, Ekiti’s Ikogosi Warm Springs and Holiday Resort and Kebbi’s Argungu Fishing Festival as some of the tourist sites that yield huge revenues for the respective states.
The hotelier, who said tourist sites abound in Kwara State, which he said include Esie Stone Image Museum, Patigi Regatta, Awon Festival, Owu Waterfall and Owa Kajola Warm Spring. He added that genuine effort towards developing them would boost the revenue profile of the state.
Chief Oyeyipo, who identified inadequate infrastructure facilities such as access roads, provision of potable water and inadequate electricity supply as some of the challenges the industry is experiencing in Kwara State, called on government to address them urgently to help business growth.
“To worsen the already very difficult operating conditions faced by the hospitality industry, the rates and tax regime in the state have not been friendly. More often than not, multiplicity of taxes has almost crippled the industry,” he said.
He maintained that operators in the industry remained undaunted in carrying out their businesses despite the challenges, adding that they are determined to meet the aspiration of government which regards them as the engine of growth for the state’s socio-economic development.