Published On: Mon, Mar 28th, 2016

RAKING IN MORE REVENUE THROUGH TOURISM

tourism_tax_2  THE global crash in world oil price has negatively affected the country. The income that the country had hitherto generated from sales of crude oil has dwindled drastically. This has affected the government’s ability to carry out projects and fund its expenditures. It is, therefore, exploring means of earning income outside oil that currently contributes more 90 percent of the country’s GDP.

Recently, the New Telegraph newspapers in their maiden economic summit titled ‘Nigeria: Beyond the Oil Economy’ brought in experts to look at how the country can generate income through other sectors of the economy. In the light of the huge figures tourism generates every year in the world and manifest transformation it has brought to many countries, it was no surprise that tourism was among the economic sectors discussed as possible areas the nation could diversify into.

The former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, chaired the tourism session with a paper presentation by the ex-Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, titled: ‘Our Heritage, Our Destination in a New Economy’.

The paper and the discussion brought to the fore the huge tourism assets the country has and how the country could tap into them to help in transforming the economy and earn income.

In his paper, Runsewe said the country, through tourism, could generate millions of jobs since tourism is human labour intensive. This, he said, could solve the high rate of youths unemployment and create millions of jobs in the country.

He said: “With over 350 ethnic groups, Nigeria is the most culturally plural and most culturally diverse nation in black Africa. The richness of her natural environment and her culture and diversity of her people readily makes the Nigeria a potential tourist destination of choice in Africa. “

Runsewe said areas such as eco-tourism, cultural cum historical tourism could be developed to attract tourists.

His words: “Nigeria is generally known to have the most fascinating and most cultural festivals in the whole world. These cultural festivals are expressed in songs, dance, drama, incantations and so on. Festivals are an integral part of Nigeria’s culture, depicting the country’s custom and tradition in a very colorful way. These offer tourists unique opportunity to sample Nigeria’s culture in its undiluted form.

“In fact, Nigeria has comparative advantage over other African countries in cultural tourism. Many of the cultural festivals in Nigeria have gained international prominence and have continued to capture the fancy of international audience.”

Runsewe said nations like the United Arab Emirates who also have oil, new that oil does not last forever and as such started planning for post oil economy by diversifying to other sectors to generate income. The sector they turned to was oil. He said Nigeria could equally do the same.

He concluded: “The reality of today requires that hitherto neglected sectors like agriculture, manufacturing , mining, solid minerals, among others, must strengthen in order to evolve and consolidate the economic base of our nation.

“Above all, specific attention must be placed on our tourism sector in the process of diversification. This sector has shown greater prospect than oil. While the oil is good, tourism is better; while oil is exhaustible and has some negative effects on our environment, tourism is sustainable and environmental friendly.”

In his contribution, Uduaghan said it was because of period such as the one the country was in that during his administration, he was harping on the phrase Delta beyond oil. Other discussants on tourism were Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, Tourism Consultant to the Ooni of Ife and proprietor of La Campagne Tropicana, Ikegun, Lagos and Mr. Ashamu Fadipe, former Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Tourism and Inter-governmental Relations.

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