‘FG Plans To Diversify Economy Through Tourism’
THE Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has underscored the commitment of the present administration towards exploiting the full potentials of the tourism sector as part of the efforts to diversify the economy.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, said at a workshop on ‘Mainstreaming Tourism into the Economic Agenda of Government’ in Abuja on Thursday that oil revenue could no longer provide resources to meet the growing and competing demands of the nation, hence the need to explore tourism as catalyst for economic growth and job creation.
The experience of the past three decades clearly highlights the shortcomings of a development strategy that places premium on foreign exchange earnings from non-renewable natural resources, especially oil and solid minerals
The economic and social dislocation that has been the country’s experience from the 1970s right from the first decade of the country had its origin in the collapse of the international oil market.
“Our experience in the recent past also clearly demonstrates that oil and mineral resources are non-renewable and have very limited potentials for addressing the development challenges that face the country today over the medium and long-term period,” the minister said.
Mohammed expressed the conviction that the nation’s diverse and unique cultural heritage, the flora and fauna, as well as the historical sites that abound in the country are capable of driving tourism to create a sustainable economy that provides jobs and income for the nation.
The uniqueness of tourism as an important economic sector is evident in its ability to employ the skilled, semi-skilled and the unskilled manpower, while its resilience is proven by the fact that despite wars, political turmoil, natural disasters, medical scares, terrorists attacks and economic and energy crises in various parts of the world, international trade in tourism services has grown spectacularly since the 1980s.
Today, as the nation grapples with the daunting challenges of re-strategizing the gains of our democracy and also occupying its pride of place in the comity of nations, tourism has been identified as a veritable option for sustainable development,” he remarked.
He restated the Federal Government’s determination to create a more conducive environment for tourism to thrive in Nigeria, listing areas of improvement to include infrastructural development, curbing youth restiveness, which scares away tourists, enactment of a sustainable institutional framework for Public-Private Partnership and the establishment of a national carrier to fly the nation’s flag.
Mohammed also advocated the establishment of a Tourism Development Fund to serve as an incentive to encourage private sector participation in tourism development.