The so-called commitment of the Nigerian government to developing the tourism industry to help diversify the economy should be met with skepticism. The recent claim to a commitment to develop our economy through tourism isn’t new and has been pushed around with every new administration. Despite the huge potential tourism in Nigeria has and the revenue and jobs it will definitely provide the Nigerian government (Federal and State) will only be paying lip service for the foreseeable future, Why? Well because it is not oil, we don’t have visionary leaders and to develop tourism you will need to work harder for probably less revenue than oil brings in.
It does not require a genius to appreciate the enormous tourism resources that Nigeria is endowed with but the wisdom and the will to exploit them as mentioned are forever lacking. The opportunities are unbelievable: Land mass, naturally occurring structures, a large population of diverse peoples, a wide range of cultures with attendant ceremonies, festivals, cuisines, artifacts and crafts, whew!
I mean if the Osun festival in oshogbo, the Ojude Oba festival in Ogun State, Kwanghir masquerade festival in Benue state, through to the Argungu Fishing Festival in Sokoto State, to the Calabar Dance Festival and the Igboukwu festivals were better managed Nigeria will be a different place. Foreigners are always looking for new places to go for the love of Christ. Instead of wasting millions on stupid bullet proof cars for aviation ministers, we can invest in those festivals for one. Make it more organised, increase safety, develop the communities e.t.c. GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA, all you need to do is to Provide INFRASTRUCture and your job is half done. It is called creating an enabling environment for US(Nigerians) to grow and we will pay back enough in tax to sustain infrastructural development (We the people promise today).lol!
It is perhaps important to note that a Nigerian Tourism Development Master Plan was developed and launched in 2006 by the Obasanjo administration with both funding and consultancy support of the United Nations and World Tourism Organisation. It has been reviewed and is said to be a thoroughly prepared 35 page working paper with a three phased action plan said to have the potential if judiciously implemented to radically transform the tourism industry by 2015.
According to reports though the tourism sector has seriously under-performed. In 2011 only 715,000 tourist came into the country, between 1995-2011, Nigeria’s highest earnings from tourism was a meager 688 million dollars in 2008. International tourism generated 0.72 per cent of Nigerias total export earnings in 2011, finally on the WTO rankings Nigeria is nowhere to be found on the top ten travel destinations in Africa.
So what does the Federal Government through the ministry of tourism do? Well more talk: Minister of Tourism talks about driving the Nigerian Project with ‘brand diplomacy’ or like you have seen on CNN ‘fascinating Nigeria project’ is the new slogan. Director General of N.T.D.C , Sally Mbanefo aims to grow the tourism sector into a 4 billion dollar industry. By establishing travel hubs as well as one stop tourism centers in the six geo-political zones.
So much for a the rhetoric of President Jonathans nebulous transformation agenda. They all should read the end of the third paragraph of this write up: FOCUS ON THE BASICS. Provide roads, electricity, water, tax system and an enabling business environment for locals and foreign investors to thrive Shikena!
If the government can focus on this and less on its proverbial ‘white elephant projects’ Nigeria will grow.