Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, FTAN, has advised the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise tourism in its programmes saying it has the potential of being the country’s main source of income.
FTAN in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Tomi Akingbogun also said that Nigeria’s strong relative economic position in Africa was highly unsustainable due to its dependence on oil as recent fall in demand of oil had affected the country’s revenue.
Akingbogun explained that tourism had become one of the major players in international commerce and represented the main income source for many developed and developing countries.
Quoting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, FTAN maintained that the business volume of tourism surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles.
“ Despite the global recession, it is notable that Travel and Tourism Industry has continued to grow over the years.
“International tourist arrivals reached a record 1.14 billion dollars in 2014; that is 51 million dollars more than in 2013 (UNWTO report).
“The tourism industry provides 266 million jobs, directly and indirectly; this means that the tourism industry now provides about 10 per cent of jobs globally.’’
“Nigeria’s need for urgent diversification cannot be over emphasised and tourism has been identified as the main sustainable and achievable option.
“The Nigerian travel and tourism industry cuts across many sub-sectors of the economy.
“These include travel agencies, tour operations, restaurants, hotels, airlines, land and water transport, arts and craft, entertainment, museums, sports, among others,’’ he said.
Akinbogun however said that there were some challenges impeding the growth and development of the country’s tourism industry.
He said that one of the challenges was lack of enabling environment due to near collapse of all public utilities.
He listed the utilities as electricity, water supply, rail transport, shortage of petroleum products and the absence of good roads across the country.
He said that insecurity, lack of national airline carrier, multiple taxation and complexity in the method of paying tax were some of the many factors hindering the growth of the sector.
“Multiplicity of taxes by various levels of governments and agencies coupled with complexity of payment methods are major impediments to the growth of the industry.
“Nigeria has been tagged one of the most difficult countries in the world in tax payment process and recently was ranked 131st position out of 141 countries in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index Ranking 2015.’’
Akinbogun further lamented the poor marketing of the country’s tourism destinations, neglect of tourism attractions and the non implementation of the Tourism Master Plan.
“Museums are inadequate and where available are poorly managed with many valuable artefacts stolen and replaced with fake copies.
“National Parks, Zoological and Botanical gardens are non-existent and where available are abused or abandoned.
“Sports Tourism is non-existent and all our stadia lay fallow and in state of disrepair,’’ the FTAN President said.
He called on Buhari to reinstate the Presidential Council on Tourism to give leadership and direction to the sector and to encourage Public Private Partnership, PPP, in tourism.

READ ALSO  Kenya tourism pulls out all the stops at WTM