HOUSE of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to come up with policies that will make tourism contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product GDP. Chairman of the house’s Committee on Culture and Tourism, Rep. Ogbeide Ihama, made the call yesterday in Abuja when the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism defended its 2017 budget before members of the committee. Ihama urged the Minister of the ministry, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to ensure that the Federal Government began proper funding of the tourism sector. According to him, the importance of boosting the tourism sector cannot be over emphasised. “In the last two years, the Federal Government has been talking about diversification,
Olumo Rock, Abeokuta Tourist Centre
and one area that can do this is the tourism sector. “Nigeria is blessed with natural endowments; talents are tied to culture and we don’t need much to support it. “We need to go back to the roots for our people to showcase their talents; government must support this sector in its drive to diversify the economy,’’ he said. Defending the budget earlier, the minister decried the infrastructural decay inhibiting the growth of tourism in the country. He pointed out that most of the cultural heritage sites in the country were not accessible to vehicles. “Nigeria ranks high in terms of natural endowments but where are the infrastructure to explore these endowments; the roads are impassable. “We have not invested
in infrastructure over the years. “No tourism can thrive where there is no security and infrastructure,’’ Mohammed said. He, however, stressed the need to encourage private sector participation as well as modern curriculum in secondary and tertiary institutions to promote culture and tourism in the country. He emphasised the need to subsidise the creative industry to ensure that young and talented persons had access to funds. “Over the years, government has not appropriated sufficient funds to help drive the industry to ensure it contributes meaningfully to the economy,’’ he added. The minister called for patience, saying that there was no quick fix to repositioning the tourism sector.

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