The Domestic and Eco-Tourism Department of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture organized a National workshop on “Mainstreaming Tourism into the economic agenda of Government: Issues and Challenges” on 17th December, 2015 at the Nanet Suites, Central Area, Abuja.
2. The event was chaired by Mrs. Ayotunde O. Adesugba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, who represented the Honourable Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and was attended by State Commissioners of Tourism, Members of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Chief Executives of the Ministry’s Parastatals, Directors in the Ministry, State Directors of Tourism, Captains of Industries, Organized Private Sector Practitioners, Tourism Consultants, Ministry’s Officials, Electronic and Print Media and the General Public.
3. In his keynote address, the Honourable Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed noted that the theme of the workshop couldn’t have been more apt and timely especially now that Nigeria is exploring other non-oil frontiers in diversifying its economy and harvesting the gains arising there from. He said however that one of the challenges is the needed synergy and political will to transform the tourism potentials into concrete realities but assured that the present administration will partner with the organized private sector which is the main player for sustainable tourism development. He concluded that Tourism, if properly harnessed, has a high propensity in creating wealth, providing employment, alleviating poverty and thus fostering quality livelihood of individuals. All this is in tandem with the core mandate of the present administration’s change agenda.
4. Two Papers on “Mainstreaming Tourism into Nigeria’s Economic Agenda: Issues and Challenges” were presented by Mr. Ashamu Sewanu Fadipe, President, Institute of Tourism & Hospitality Services of Nigeria and Mr. Tunde Lawal, Director (Macroeconomic Analysis), Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
6. At the end of the deliberations, the following recommendations of the communiqué were considered and adopted;
- There is an intimidating preponderance of rich tourism potentials in Nigeria which can be harnessed to generate much revenue for the country. To achieve this, government must intensify efforts and political commitment in developing the sector in view of its significance as a catalyst for economic growth.
- Diversification of the economy is key to sustainable development. In this regard, Nigeria must break way from the cocoon of a monolithic economy that is dependent on petroleum resources and develop the non oil sectors such as tourism, agriculture, sports, solid minerals, etc. which have enormous potentials in generating employment, foreign exchange earnings and wealth creation.
- The Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan recommended that tourism development in the country should be concentrated in five clusters. The document also identified flagship projects which will serve as icons and catalyst for tourism development. To ensure this, there must be systematic implementation of all the recommendations contained therein.
- The scope of tourism is widening by the day linking such sectors as Agriculture, Sports, Environment, Immigration, etc. In this connection, there must be functional collaboration among the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with appropriate Legislative backing to develop the tourism industry.
- There is no doubt that tourism generates revenues and employment. To further enhance this position, the provision and maintenance of basic infrastructure to tourism sites and attractions should be embarked upon by government at all levels thereby giving the private sector the opportunity to key in. Also, conscious effort should be made to establish a “National Carrier” as done in other tourism countries.
- The private sector should be more cohesive, visible, compact and vocal as the driver for tourism development. Hence, the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) should coordinate activities of the organized private sector and collaborate with government in developing the industry.
- There is a symbiotic relationship between ecological tourism and the environment. Hence, concerted efforts and policies should be channelled to address the challenges of environmental degradation, coastal erosion, land pollution and poaching. This will go a long way in preserving the eco-tourism resource base and biodiversity.
- Credible statistics is crucial for the development of the sector. In this regard, all relevant agencies of government should collaborate in the development of Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) in the country for policy formulation, planning and measurement of the contribution of tourism to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- In view of tourists’ expectations for value for money, there is the need to establish, monitor and maintain standards of tourism facilities and services in conformity with international best practices.
- The acclaimed tourist destination countries of the world are not free from challenges of insecurity; hence, the Nigerian situation is not peculiar. All that is required is to build a common front in combating the menace by creation of public awareness and collaborating with the security agencies.
- The tourism industry is highly capital intensive. Therefore, it is imperative to establish a pool of funds which can be easily accessed by stakeholders in the industry.
- Marketing and promotion is key to sustainable tourism development. In this regard, adequate sensitization in both local and international media, quality promotional materials at all the Nigerian Embassies and liberalization of visa procedure should be taken seriously.
- Adequate budgetary allocation, appropriate legislation, consistency in policy formulation, creation of awareness and training/capacity building should be given priority in the sector.
- For Nigeria to benefit much from bilateral and multilateral relations with friendly countries and organizations, “Tourism” should be added to this Ministry to read: FEDERAL MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, TOURISM AND CULTURE.