Mr Folorunsho Coker, the Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has emphasized the role of the tourism industry as major asset to the nation’s economy.
He made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja to commemorate 2019 World Tourism Day(WTD) with the theme “Tourism and Jobs: A Better Future for All.”
He said “tourism employs a large number of people in the world and a contributing factor to the economic growth of a nation.
“Tourism is a laudable and thriving business in the country.”
According to him, the WTD nominated by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) will aid in the promotion of tourism potential, describing it as a blessing to the industry.
Coker also said that this year’s event was not just for celebration but an event to showcase the importance of what the year’s theme would bring to the industry.
He added that the purpose of the celebration was to create awareness on the role of tourism and to also demonstrate its effects on the social, cultural, political and economic values globally.
He explained that this year’s theme captured the focus of NTDC, saying that the event was another avenue to enlighten individuals, private organizations and government about the importance of the industry.
He noted that in 2018, tourism globally employed 313,221,000 people and generated 8,272 trillion dollars.
Coker also emphasized the need for the society to harness the potential in the sector to engender growth, adding that tourism contributed 34 percent to the nation’s GDP.
He also said that it was imperative to redefine tourism and see it as an investment and pay necessary attention to it to reap its dividends.
According to him, tourism exists in society but stresses the need to realign the thinking of people to see tourism as a business and investment for it to thrive.
The NTDC boss, therefore, encouraged stakeholders to tap from the vast potential in the industry, as well as form cluster tourism assets around heritage sites to highlight its potential.
Coker said “tourism has great potential in our country and if it gets 10 percent of what the oil industry gets, it will grow more than what it is now.
“Most of our destinations are moribund and lack the basic infrastructure that most destinations have, such as clean spaces and decent facilities like toilets, seats, among others
“There is a need to cluster tourism assets around nature to make it all-inclusive package which interestingly requires a token investment to bring it up to standard
“It is also needful for tourism product sellers in the country to collaborate and come up with a seamless package that foreign and local tourists can easily consume just like during Makkah and Jerusalem pilgrimages.”
The director-general stated that the society’s culture was evolving, adding that the new medium for cultural expression lied in music, fashion, arts and food that was driven by festivals.
He noted that festivals were tools used in celebrating people’s culture and the unique arts produced helped tourism assets such as hotels, restaurants, others.
He, therefore, encouraged the use of digital space, the new media such as Facebook, Instagram and others to showcase documented events to attract wide publicity.
He advised owners of tourism assets to create a brand identity so as to make tourism thrive and also to maximize potential.
The NTDC boss enjoined the private sector and other government agencies to partner the corporation to create events that would attract the patronage of tourism assets.
He urged tourists to visit Nigeria “to hear the heartbeat of Africa and experience what the feel is like.”