The tourism industry in the country might not attract the desired investment growth if it continued to be an agency under a supervising ministry.
Two stakeholders in the tourism sector said it on Wednesday during the 400th anniversary of Global Slave Trade, which they claimed started in 1619.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that 40 independent travel agencies and companies came together in Badagry to commemorate the 400 years of the introduction of slave trade in Africa.
The companies used the occasion to visit the Badagry Slave Trade points such as the Heritage Museum, Malam Seriki Abass Slave House, the First Storey Building in Nigeria, the Point-of-No-Return Harbour and others.
The Founder of TVP Adventure, Funmi Oyatogun, said that Nigeria had great tourism potential capable of boosting her economy.
Oyatogun, however, noted that the tourism sector might not attract the desired investment if it continued to be an agency under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
“Nigeria is missing a lot as regards investment in the tourism sector. We are missing in terms of traffic foot fall because Africa is now the third largest tourism economy.
“In spite of the abundant opportunities, Nigeria is yet to tap into it. We have yet to simplify or encourage the infrastructural facilities that will ease the movement of people around Nigeria.
“Nigeria is laid back in spite of the fact that we have many countries in Africa growing their economy through tourism.
“The budgetary allocation for the tourism industry is too small because it is not our priority.
“Tourism industry cannot grow if we continue to have it under the Ministry of Information because we cannot expect growth in that way.
“The tourism sector needs to be a separate ministry of its own and not as an agency under a ministry,’’ she said.
The founder, Nigeria Travel Week, Mr Efetobo Awhana, said that there were so many untapped opportunities in the tourism sector.
He added that other countries also rich in oil had diversified and started growing their tourism industry.
“There are so many untapped opportunities in the tourism sector which other countries have been benefiting from, but Nigeria is looking the other way.
“Other oil producing countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia have been investing proceeds from oil into tourism industry which has a higher yield.
“We should not wait to experience in Nigeria what happened to some other European countries.
“We need to have an investment fund from the tourism bank to help the investment in the tourism industry.
“A country with a population of 200 million people should be able to drive or maximise its investment potential to the fullest,’’ he said.
Awhana, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Avantgarde Tours, said that Nigeria had enough tourist attractions that could be turned into multi-million naira ventures.
“ In Nigeria alone, we have over 40 waterfalls with about 10 waterfalls in Mambilla alone. We need to start thinking about investment in that sector now.
“Also the celebration of the global slave trade is another heritage we can tap into.
“In America now, people are having DNA test to determine their origin and I think many will be having Nigerian root.
“We also need to domesticate our tourism industry so as to be the first beneficiaries of our investment,’’ he said.
Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Peter Dada
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