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Why Buhari must make a mark in tourism development?

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The presidential election has come and gone, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given the verdict on the outcome of the election which eventually returned President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23,2019 elections, an opportunity for him to consolidate on his programmes, especially tourism which practically got less attention compare to what the country gained from the sector in the last three year.

The world is unprecedentedly tilting towards tourism development and going by the effectiveness of the creative industry and the trailblazing effect of tourism content in improving the global economy, there is need for President Buhari to use his second and final tenure wisely by giving tourism a prominent position among other vibrant sectors he successfully delivered in the last three year plus.

This is because there is no third term to hope for, this is the only time left to let the tourism industry feel the effect of this government through good policy thrust, human capital development and utility by recognising not only rich material potential naturally gifted the country but also squarely use it human resources in the area of expertise in the industry to make a difference this time around.

We have some stakeholders in the public and private sector who have the technical knowledge, experience and international placement to attract investment and influx of traffic but lack the political goodwill and legislation to make it a reality, which is mainly the problem facing the insignificant growth recorded in the travel and tourism industry, even when the private sectors work tiredly to reinvent activities to boost the tourism sector.

However, Travelpulse&MICE believed in the spirit of commitment, planning and using what we have through the use of good think tanks in the public and private sector to generate futuristic ideas that will translate into practical development, which will eventually have multiplier effect on the economy on one hand and the people on the other hand.

To attain this level, more work needs to be done in the tourism industry. The need to invest in infrastructure, service delivery, security and rebranding cannot be overemphasised. Practically there may not be a significant increase in the number of tourists unless key issues such as accessibility (good network transportation infrastructure and seamless connectivity and affordability), hospitality, and security are addressed. Hence, a shift in focus to address these infrastructural problems is needed in order to realize its potential.

A school of though argued in a review that the sector’s contribution to GDP, in the past decade has shown that its largest contribution was in 2008. At that time, travel and tourism directly contributed about 2.4% to GDP. Subsequently, the number has fluctuated between 1.5% and 1.8%. This decrease coincides with the insecurities associated with the violent terrorist group, Boko Haram.

The tourism sector is also constrained by low income and inadequate infrastructure; transport, logistics and accommodation. The number of Nigerians living in poverty stands at 112 million (62 per cent of the population). This poses a strong challenge to domestic tourism as the average Nigerian considers it a luxury to travel within the country.

Giving a keynote address at the 4th Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition (NTIFE) held in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed noted that the tourism sector has the potential to redistribute wealth to destinations across the world if well harnessed, adding the administration has taken certain steps to transform the sector into an alternative revenue earner for the country

According to Mohammed “A number of reasons point to potentials of tourism as a means of achieving economic growth and these include tourism as a growth industry; as distributor of wealth; tourism without trade barriers and the fact that tourism utilises free natural infrastructure among others.

“Our experience in the recent past also clearly demonstrates that oil and mineral resources are non-renewable and have very limited potential for addressing the development challenges that face the country today and over the medium and long-term period.

The minister agreed that tourism has become a key sector in the world economy and is a crucial source of economic growth and development in many countries.”

He insisted that the sector has the potential if properly harnessed to be a major revenue earner for the country stressing “It’s important for us as Nigerians to take advantage of the industry’s commendable resources and transform them into huge money spinners.”

The minister stated that the sector as a growth industry has demonstrated consistent and remarkable growth almost every year.According to him, international tourist arrivals increased from 528 million in 2015 to 1.6 trillion in 2017. Also tourism receipts earned by destinations worldwide surged from $495 billion in 2000 to $1.33 trillion in 2017.”

Also, Mr Ikechi Uko, a tourism expert and organiser of different tourism and travel expos in Nigeria and across Africa at a show in Lagos that one of the challenges plaguing the sector, as identified in the report, such as insufficient flights. explained “the number of flight pairs in Nigeria is very low. Lagos and Abuja are already saturated because almost all airlines want to fly there. As such, we need more flights to cut across the country because the travel industry cannot grow without a functional air transport network.”

The Nigeria Hospitality Report from the stables of Jumia Travel is fast becoming a primary source of data for the experts and stakeholders in the travel industry as it offers a profound and holistic insight into the industry that accounted for 1.9 per cent of total GDP as a direct contribution, and 5.1 per cent as a total contribution to GDP. In monetary terms, the sector contributed approximately N2.3 billion to the GDP as a direct contribution, and N6.2 billion as a total contribution to the GDP.

These figures highlighted by the report can be doubled or even tripled if President Buhari and tourism authorities, agencies and institutions have the goodwill of the government to turn around the fortune of the tourism industry for the better of all.

Yemi Kale, Chief Executive Officer, NBS, made the disclosure at the 61st United Nations World Tourism Organisation Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF), Conference, in Abuja, last year that said tourism sector accounted for 34 per cent of GDP and about 20 per cent of the nation’s employment creation in 2017.

He said tourism activities in Nigeria had immense potential and indeed, the sector encompasses and affects several sub-sectors across the nation’s key output sectors.

“This is our competitive advantage and we need to work together to make the most of it,” he said.

According to him, it is because of its far reaching impact on all groups of society, that tourism is mentioned specifically within both the Sustainable Development Goals and the wider Agenda 2030.

“With respect to the direct impact of tourism on GDP, there are some economic activities that make up what we may call the tourism characteristics sectors.

“The art, entertainment and recreation, trade, transport, accommodation and food services, administrative, support and other services account for 34 per cent of GDP in 2017 and about 20 per cent of employment.

“Nevertheless, this shows you the immense potential of tourism activities in Nigeria, a 500 billion dollars economy with about 70 per cent of that household consumption expenditure,“ he said.

Mr Kale said that tourism had also proved to be a much-needed source of additional income for households, particularly within rural regions.

However, Travelpulse&MICE tasked the president Buhari led administration to look at the ollowing areas of considerations if tourism must contribute generously to the revenue generation, employment creation and capacity building of human resources to boost economic in the next four years.

Nigeria has come of age and it is needful to have a functional Tourism Satallite Account (TSA) to practical take care of the tourism investment fund that will be private sector driven to stimulate a workable public and private sector partnership bid that has long been given a lip service treatment by this administration.

Seeing the President Buhari administration as a serious government who sincerely want to bring succour to the plight of the millions of Nigeria attaining the employment age per monthly basis, it is imperative to form alliance with the private sector to not only activate different tourism content into a robust people driven activities, but also key into the already established event to boost it capacity.

Following the infrastructural development trend recorded in the last three and a half years, it will be benefitting if more efforts are channeled towards areas that will help in making the cycle of the tourism value chain a complete one viz-a-viz effectively boosting the country’s Gross Domestic Product, a sure cushion effect for planning for a sustainable future.

The post Why Buhari must make a mark in tourism development? appeared first on Tribune Online.

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