Generally, tourism is regarded as a sector that plays a significant role in the rapid development of a country. This role was revealed in the recent quarterly edition of the Association of Travel and Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ATTWON) Tourism Parliament. It was commemorated under the theme, “Setting tourism agenda for the new dispensation in Nigeria”. This edition emphasized the myriad of problems facing the economy and the need for pragmatic solutions to them all. Tackling these challenges require that what tourism means to the economy is well understood, alongside the factors that are needed to change the narrative.
During the inaugural speech of the newly elected President, Bola Tinubu, he made a vow to keep his campaign promises through the creation of an enabling environment for local and international investors. His message stated thus, “I have a message for our investors — local and foreign. Our government shall review all complaints on multiple taxations and various anti-investment inhibitions”. Without a secure and safe environment enabled by a thriving tourism landscape, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cannot improve.
Creation of job opportunities is possible in the sector.
At the ATTWON-organized Tourism Parliament session, the president of ATTWON, Mr. Ayo Omotoso, in his welcome address, stated that tourism contributes immensely to the total growth and development of a country. It likewise contributes to the improvement of revenue, creation of thousands of job opportunities, and development and of infrastructure of a country. This year’s edition is considered historic for the presence of two renowned former Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA), Mrs. Omotayo Omotosho and Mrs. Sally Mbanefo.
All stakeholders present at the event collectively agreed that the present Ministry of Information and Culture is not a full representation of tourism and the need for the ministry of tourism to stand alone. The former Director General of the NTDA, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, added to the meaning of tourism and what it entails, saying that tourism is life through business tourism, lifestyle, destination tourism, education tourism, health and others.
President Tinubu is urged to reinstate PCT for impacts.
Speaking at the forum, the South West Vice President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Otunba Ayo Olumoko, charged the Tinubu-led administration to reinstate the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT). This council was initiated during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo for enhancement of positive impacts and growth of the sector. Also emphasizing on the need to improve the tourism sector, former Director General of NTDA, Mrs. Omotayo Omotosho, asserted that there is a need for the creation of a tourism policy and improvement of sector funding.
Country Representative of the West Africa Tourism Organization (WATO), Mr. Hassan Zakari, strongly suggested that the new administration constructs a constitutional and legal framework for the sector. He added that the framework should clearly state whether the sector is exclusive of residual list. Also, he made a proposal for the need to revive the National Tourism Master-plan with current trends — a reasonable plan which is yet to be implemented. This idea is said to be one that should be considered with seriousness by the new dispensation.
The need to focus on Nollywood tourism to promote domestic tourism.
Commenting on the security aspect of tourism, Group CEO of August Eye Ltd, Ambassador Roy Okhidievbie, suggested the need for a Tourism Police in the Nigerian Police Force. Mrs. Toyosi Etim-Efffiong, CEO of That Good Media, addressed the various aspects of Nollywood in tourism, focusing on the need for script writers to aid promotion and projection of domestic tourism, art and culture. Dr. Alex Nwuba likewise agreed on the need for a legal framework to ensure collective direction and speedy development of the sector.