The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Mrs. Nkechi Ejele has called on stakeholders in the tourism industry to support, collaborate and synergize with in sector to help check impediments of growth and development of the sector in Nigeria.

Ejele made the call during a Stakeholders Meeting with the theme, “Tourism: A Tool for Sustainable Economic Diversification,” organised by the Department of International Tourism Promotion and Cooperation of the Ministry at Nanet Suites, Central Business District,  Abuja-FCT, on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015.

According to her, the theme of the meeting was apt because it will enable the stakeholders to share ideas, knowledge and experiences on how tourism can meaningfully increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria by creating job opportunities for the teeming population of unemployed persons, thus alleviating poverty in the country.

She said, tourism has contributed to the wealth of nations and the wellbeing of their citizens by providing foreign exchange earnings through the interesting, hospitable and worthwhile experiences it avails for tourists and visitors, adding that the 3.2% tourism sector contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 1.4% employment generation it creates as estimated by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is underestimated as a result of inadequate statistics.

In the view of the Permanent Secretary, weak policy implementation, poor inter-sector and inter-government linkages, lack of fiscal policy, unsustainable efforts at standardization, absence of domesticated information and management system, internal security challenges as well as inadequate tourism infrastructure and convention centres are some of the challenges militating against the full development of the Nigerian tourism sector.

However, she stated that according to the 2012 World Economic Council Report, despite these challenges, Nigeria is ranked No. 2 as a country with enormous potential for tourism growth, while the British Economic Council Report Appraisal for 2012 also ranked Nigeria as the 4th largest spenders in retail businesses in the United Kingdom.

Looking at this scenario, therefore, Mrs. Ejele opined that harnessing Nigeria’s inherent tourism potentials and converting same to our national economic advantage has become imperative, hence the call for concerted efforts toward achieving the desired growth of the sector as mandated in the Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan.

To achieve this growth, the Permanent Secretary noted that, a strong Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement is a key requirement, with Government providing the enabling environment while the private stakeholders drive the sector with their expert knowledge and wealth of experience to move the sector forward.   

Earlier, in her welcome speech, the Director, International Tourism Department in the Ministry, Mrs. Aderonke Wole-Fasanya, stated that tourism in Nigeria is at its lowest ebb because it is not considered as a profitable sector, as the true ties and values of the tourism industry are usually underestimated.

She stated that, the Nigeria Tourism industry can contribute meaningfully towards the socio-economic growth and achievement of millennium development goals, which underscores the Ministry’s desire to collaborate with private stakeholders in the industry in Nigeria towards harnessing the abundant opportunities that exist in the sector.

Reiterating the Ministry’s commitment and conviction towards the development of the sector and the country’s GDP, Mrs. Wole-Fasanya said the meeting will serve as catalyst for repositioning, propelling and galvanizing of the tourism sector in contributing positively to the growth of the nation.

Sokunle Babajide

Corporate Affairs

NICO HQ, Abuja