Operators in the Nigerian tourism sector have charged governments at all levels to take advantage of opportunities in the sector, in order to improve revenue generation in the country.
The call was made recently made in Lagos, during the annual tourism seminar of the association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) titled: ‘Tourism and Jobs: Better future for all’.
In his address, the Olota of Otta, Ogun State, who was a former Tourism Editor of THISDAY Newspaper, Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege, urged governments and Nigerians to explore tourism potentials for job creation.
According to him, “Festivals in each community could be developed by members of such communities to generate revenue. Festivals were developed over the years to attract local and International tourists.
“Egungun masquerade festival is one of the tourism potential to latch upon, likewise the monumental buildings across communities which could be converted to tourist’s sites.
“With the huge tourism potential we are blessed with in this country, we should not be complaining about lack of jobs, individuals must be creative and tap into these tourism potential.
“The Egungun festival is an opportunity to latch on by the unemployed, different communities have their masquerades which should be developed and showcased to the world.
“Nigerians need not look up to the government for job creation, government is only meant to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“The second tallest story building in Nigeria is in Otta, it should be better developed to attract international tourists; a lot more monumental buildings across communities can also be converted to tourists’ sites,” he said.
Earlier, the Managing Director, Sabre Network, West Africa, Dr Gbenga Olowo, urged government to take the tourism industry seriously by sufficient budgetary allocation for the sector.
Olowo, who was represented by the Deputy Zonal Director, Western Zone, Sabre Travel Network, Mr. Mayowa Badewa, said, the tourism industry must be prioritised as huge employment opportunities could be derived from the sector.
He posited that, “other African countries like, Ethiopia, Kenya, Gambia are doing well in tourism because they had been able to work on improved connectivity, good infrastructures, visa relaxation policy and more.”
He, however, urged Nigerian governments to, “collaborate with the private sector, intensify efforts in fighting insecurity, create policies for ease of doing business in the country, and ensure the roads are good and safe for tourism businesses to thrive in Nigeria.
“We are known to be the giant of Africa, and Nigeria is not recorded in the list of the top 10 visited countries in Africa because we are not doing things correctly.
“Government should try to allocate huge revenue for the tourism industry annually because the returns will be in multiples at the end of the day.
“There are only two hanging lakes in the world, the one at Colorado, United States of America and the Ado Awaye hanging lake in Oyo which is not well marketed for international recognition.
“The one in Colorado generates over a million visitors annually. We must let the world know what we have and encourage them to visit,” he said.
Similarly, the President of La Campaigne Netropicana Beach Resort in Lagos state, Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, affirmed that the power of tourism sector in transforming the society.
“The La Campagne only, has succeeded in transforming Ikegun community where the resort is based, to one of the richest and fast developing locality in Nigeria. It has economically empowered the people and transformed their lives and the community,” he said.
He, however, recommended it as a model to the Nigeria government and Nigerians, urging everyone to look inward and see where they have comparative advantage and latch on to it for the development of the people.