Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, said tourism is an alternative to oil.
She made this known at the seventh Annual National Conference of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies, Nigeria, AES, in Lagos with the theme ‘Nigeria Beyond Oil’.
Mbanefo emphasised that tourism can give the economy a paradigm shift from dependence on the dwindling oil sector to a vibrant and sustainable multi-sector driven by tourism. She explained that what the country needs now is to increase its production capacity by investing in sectors that are labour intensive like tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
She highlighted the role of government through her corporation to market Nigeria as a foremost destination for business, sports, religious, leisure and cultural tourism, adding that the current administration’s change agenda has provided the right platform to attract the much needed investment into tourism ventures.
She also noted that the contribution of tourism activities which ranges from transportation to accommodation facilities and food have not been properly captured in the statistical data of Nigeria as defined by the United Nation World Tourism Organisation’s, UNWTO, criteria, saying “if this is done, the huge earnings in the sector will be seen and government, donor agencies, Nigeria and internal business owners will be convinced to fund and invest in the sector”.
She explained that the tourism value chain that cuts across all sectors of the economy has the potential to create employment opportunities, grow small and medium scale enterprises, reduce poverty and encourage social integration
Promoting and preserving our tourist and historical sites and assets will empower local communities and states where they are located which would reduce the rate of urban migration.
She said the tourism value chain means that we must apply a holistic approach to what tourism is, the prospects and challenges, stressing that it is the greatest employer of labour in the world, as one in every 11 jobs is a hospitality employee, so we must not underestimate the power of tourism to generate revenue and boost the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of any economy.
Earlier, Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mr. Remi Ogunmefum, said the future is bright for Nigeria with a landmass of 9,237km, abound in human and natural resources. He emphasised on the relevance of manufacturing to the economic growth of the economy, stating that interest rates on credit facilities must be reviewed to make them accessible and profitable for entrepreneurs.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, represented by the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr. Babatunde Durosimi, said the state government is committed to wealth creation and youth empowerment initiatives and pledged to support the goals and aspirations of AES to enhance good governance and economic development in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the event, former Minister of Industries and Chairman, AES Excellence Club, Dr. Nike Akande, said the forum is timely despite the setback Nigeria is witnessing due to over dependence on oil over the years. She clarified that the AES is a non- political group and comprises of Nigerians of impeccable character, high integrity, technocrats and proactive professionals who are passionate about Nigeria.

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