The president, Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), Mr Nkereuwen Onung has said that Federal Government must see tourism as an economic development tool to grow in Nigeria.
The NATOP president, who spoke on the state of tourism in Nigeria at Akwaaba Africa Travel Market, recently, said if the truth must be said, tourism cannot actualise its full potentialities, if it is not given required attention and enabling environment.
“Government, do they have the political will or even create the enabling atmosphere to turn the tourism potential in Nigeria into economic power? Why are things not working, when we have everything that can make thing work in Nigeria?
“If Cross River State, as a component of Nigeria, could build and nurse a brand like the Carnival Calabar to its present enviable status, why can’t we be serious for once to turn around our economy by tapping from tourism wealth?”
Onung, however, said tourism is a national government issue that Federal Government is expected to provide adequate infrastructure to for it to work.
He acknowledged that the industry is private sector-driven, but argued that without an enabling environment backup by necessary infrastructural development, tourism promotion would remain a mirage in Nigeria.
“Ethiopia Airlines is working, even when it is government owned, there is no iota of interference in its operation because there is a structure. East Africa is also working because they have taken their destiny in their hands and their governments have seen hope and future in what they are doing.
The NATOP boss, who said the private sector is ready to synergise through the private and public sector partnership, said “We can only make a difference in tourism industry in Nigeria, if there is political will and sincerity of purpose to make tourism the new bride of our economy.