The Nigerian tourism sector, though ignored, over the years has been one of resilience; underfunded despite being one of the largest employers of labour with multiplier effects, some stakeholders are keen on developing a new roadmap for the growth of domestic tourism.
According to the group, Collaborative Tourism Practitioners, the roadmap unfolded recently during a webinar, is expected to serve as the fulcrum for turning the sector into a money-spinner and a means of diversifying the nation’s economy from oil.
The group in its document, ‘Collaborative tourism practitioners’ roadmap for development of domestic tourism in Nigeria,’ noted that Nigeria as a country was blessed with diverse potentials dotting the 774 local government areas, spanning 923,768 square kilometers and supported by over 200 million population made of a growing middle class and vibrant youth force, which make the country a rich market to be explored by both investors and tourists.
It also noted that for meaningful development to take place in the sector, a bottom-to-top approach mechanism must be adopted and that the Nigerian domestic scene must also be aligned with what obtains in global tourism.
Based on this, the Chairman of the group, Olawanle Akinboboye, disclosed that the central theme for Nigeria’s tourism as recommended by the group should be “cultural and heritage tourism,” on which other sub-themes revolve.
Akinboboye said, ‘“That is our strength. We want to be known as the cultural capital of the world as no other country has such abundant and unique cultural heritage as we do.
“So, we need to build our destination on that central theme and then other aspects would evolve around it.’”
He further stated that it was only when this was done and Nigeria becomes noted for its cultural heritage just as East African countries are noted for safari and wildlife that real development can be achieved.
Therefore, he said, the group developed a tourism roadmap for the development of tourism in Nigeria, adding that anybody is welcome to participate in the new move, as the document made public, is expected to form the basis for participation and investment by interested entrepreneurs and stakeholders.
The document further stated that Nigerians should focus more on developing tourist destinations as opposed to tourist attractions, arguing that “attractions” are not what ignite the interest of the tourists in a country but the “destinations” which offer the tourists opportunities to explore and spend money on the activities generated by the destinations.
It would be recalled that Sterling Bank had earlier made N5 billion seed fund available for investment in tourism. Following this, investors with bankable proposals are expected to benefit from the initial disbursement of between N250,000 and N500,000 funding for approved projects.
The funding is expected to be increased as the project progresses.
Members include Akinboboye, Isaac and Nneka Moses, Efetobo Awhana, Dr. Mohammad Adamu, and Brian Ebden