By Jerry Emmanson
Nigeria is replete with vast tourism potentials which can attract non-oil revenue to grow the economy. Sadly, government has not done enough to promote tourism, due to the ineffective management of these potentials.
Today, many countries in the world continue to generate huge revenue from tourism, while Nigeria is yet to tap fully into the sector to discover the hidden treasures that abound therein.
Without a doubt, the over-reliance on oil has relegated the sector to the background, making government to continue to pay lip-service to the imperatives of tourism to national development.
However, Nigeria offers a wide variety of tourist attractions, such as extended and roomy water bodies and accompanying beaches ideal for swimming and other water sports, unique wildlife, vast swaths of unsullied nature, ranging from tropical forest, magnificent waterfalls, some new rapidly growing cities and climatic conditions in some parts conducive for holiday-lovers.
Today, many Nigerians would rather travel abroad for vacations, while many of the country’s scenic destinations remain unseen and largely unvisited. To make Nigerians experience the vast tourism potentials, tourism agency and Nigeria’s flagship tour company, Motley Travels and Logistics Agency, has been playing a significant role in bridging this gap in the industry.
The tour company has gone on several tours across the country, making a huge effort to identify the sector as a catalyst for economic development. While many of these attractions are still largely untapped and even at their raw states, they are still being enjoyed by a slew of foreigners in search of new, exotic holiday destinations or adventure-lovers in search of new challenges and experiences.
The lack of required modern infrastructure in some parts of the country, as well as acute under-development and poverty persist – a spectacle which many a tourist is confronted with, upon a visit to these destinations.
Despite the challenges facing the sector, Motley Travels has taken up the challenge to uncover and present to the world these destinations to Nigerians and the world, to show the beauty and rich cultural heritage the country is blessed with. The company has visited many like the Obudu mountain resort, Kajuru Castle, Arewa House, Takwa Bay, Yankari Wild life Park, Gurara falls, Mount Patti, etc with plans to reach out to some African countries and the world beyond.
The Managing Director of the agency, Mr Mark More in an interview with LEADERSHIP said: “What needs to be done in the tourism sector is what Motley is doing now. Government has a role to play, but I think people need to come up with ideas like this for the government and other interested investors to see and want to be part of. With these increased activities, these sites will be developed to increase the inflow of tourists which in turn generate revenue for the government.”
The richness and diversity of Nigeria’s tourism resources, coupled with economic liberalisation policies could provide investment opportunities in various areas, some of which may include travel and tourism which could contribute significantly to GDP growth, employment generation and capital investment of any nation. Evidence of these abound in the United States, China, Germany, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, Tanzana, Kenya etc.
In this instance, a state like Cross River, with its Calabar Carnival, which began in 2004, is changing positively the face of tourism in the country. The organisers of the annual show now see it as “Africa’s biggest street party.” Its 2015 edition attracted participants from Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Ghana and Zimbabwe. Really, the event, by all standards, is an elegant spectacle.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimated that revenue from the tourism sector in 2007 was $10 billion. It reportedly contributed six per cent to Nigeria’s gross domestic product.
Tourism is a major sub-sector of the economy of many countries and a huge foreign exchange-earner. To this end, deliberate and tenacious efforts should be made to make Nigeria a tourist destination in Africa through different initiatives.
According to the Act that established the NTDC, it is expected to encourage the provision and upgrading of tourism facilities like hotels, assist in the development of museums, historic sites, parks, game reserves, beaches, natural beauty spots, holiday resorts and souvenir industries. They are places nature emblazoned with her wonders and they attract tourists the world over, as nectar does butterflies. While the NTDC also ensures that foreigners flood the country, its task of prodding Nigerians to look into their holiday packages is no less crucial.
Nigeria is one such country seeking to diversify her economy away from crude oil production, in order to maximise employment and income-generating opportunities. Nigeria has huge tourism potentials, especially given her natural and diversified landscapes but lacks effective and tourism-supporting and enhancing infrastructure. While tourism affords huge employment and income generating opportunities, its impact on bio-physical environment is well acknowledged; hence the emphasis on sustainable tourism.