By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku
The Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folorunsho Coker has expressed his confidence that the Nigerian tourism industry would be refocused as a thriving business and a major money spinner.
In an interactive session with journalists, weekend, Coker noted that Nigeria was endowed with several tourist sites which could enhance her revenue if properly harnessed.
He said: â€œTourism is responsible for 10per cent of the global GDP; it is about $8trillion in value; it is responsible for one in eleven jobs, more than the oil industry; it is the largest employer of labour in the world, about 292 million people. And strategically, it employs predominantly women and the youth. It is responsible for about 1.4 trillion in foreign exchange; it is responsible for 10 percent of world trade, and responsible for 30 percent of service export.
But for it to make this huge contribution to any economy, it has to be treated as a serious business and not as leisure or past time activity that it has always been classified as. It has to be invested in for you to reap the huge values out of it.â€
The NTDC boss identified lack of direct investment in the tourism industry due to inconsistent policies, negative global perception due to insecurity propagated by bad press as some of the impediments to the growth of the industry.
He said the focus of the agency was to change the perception that tourism is just arts and culture and refocus it as a thriving business and a major revenue source.
According to him, a strategic five-point action plan, â€˜CHIEFâ€™ has been launched to drive the initiatives. CHIEF, he explained, stands for corporate governance and regulations; human capital development,Â infrastructural development; events and marketing; and finance and investment.
Coker said that the Nigerian tourism landscape accounts for about 1.7per cent of total GDP and is a major and primary source of investment and revenue for Nigeria.
He cited a recent research by the Institute of Directors of Nigeria, which predicted an increase in contribution by tourism to economic progress from about N962.7billion in 2015 to about N1.56trillion by 2025, pointing out that the right policies must be in place for this to happen.
The NTDC boss applauded the recent election of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, as Vice President of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly, saying it underscores the importance of Nigeria in the global tourism industry.
Mohammed was elected by acclamation to speak for Africa, alongside Cape Verde, at the 22nd General Assembly of the UNWTO, which held in Chengdu, China.
His election followed Nigeriaâ€™s unopposed nomination by the UNWTO Commission on Africa (CAF).
Reacting to his election, the minister said: â€œTo be called upon to serve as a Vice President of the General Assembly of the UNWTO is a very big honour to Nigeria.
â€It has proven one thing, that in the last two years, we have succeeded in pushing tourism and the Creative Industry as a whole from the back burner to the front burner from a side issue to the main issue. This has also been noticed by the global community and I feel highly gratified by it.â€
Nigeria, which will serve on the UNWTO General Assembly until 2019, will host the 61st edition of the UNWTO CAF Meeting in Abuja 4th-6th June 2018.