For Nigeria to reap the huge revenues locked up in the tourism industry, the sector must be treated as a serious business; Folorunsho Coker, director-general, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), has said.
Coker, who spoke with a select group of editors in Lagos, said the focus now is to treat tourism as a business and as a huge foreign exchange earner, noting that tourism is not just about arts and culture as it has always been wrongly classified as, but a money-spinner that can immensely scale up the fortunes of Nigeria, if properly handled.
Pledging that he would do all within his capacity to re-direct the sector and bring out the hidden juice that will, not only benefit the country, but also positively impact the lives of citizens, the DG said that his already launched five-letter word action plan- CHIEF- would help him realise his goal.
According to him, “C-H-I-E-F, is our action plan, and stands for: Corporate governance & regulations; Human capital development; Infrastructural development; Events & marketing, and Finance & investment.”
Presenting what he titled, ‘Destination Nigeria: Tourism Development Roadmap (2017-2021)’, the DG said: “Tourism is a business of moving people from point A to B and back to A or further up to point C. It is transportation by air, by road, by water. Transportation entails servicing of vehicles, buying of new tyres and all sorts of maintenance issues of consumption, and that is business. It is when the traveler gets to the destination, is it for business, or pleasure? That is business. The hotel where he stays, the food he eats and other things there are business. We want to change the perception that people have always had about tourism that it is just Arts and Culture.”
Reeling out statistics to drive home his conviction that it is a big business, Coker said: “Tourism is responsible for 10 percent of the global GDP; It is about 8 trillion dollars in value; It is responsible for one in eleven jobs, that is more than the oil industry; it is the largest employer of labour in the world, about 292 million people. And strategically, it employs predominantly women and the youth. It is responsible for about 1.4 trillion in foreign exchange; it is responsible for 10 percent of world trade, and responsible for 30 percent of service export.”
“Now you can see how important the industry is. And for it to make this huge contribution to any economy, it has to be treated as a serious business. It has to be invested in for you to reap the huge values out of it. So tourism must be treated as business not as leisure or past time activity that it has always been classified as,” he added.
Full interview next Sunday. Don’t miss it.