Experts implore Nigerians to tap into tourism potential

Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Tourism experts have appealed to Nigerians to tap into the huge tourism potential and tourist attractions in the country to develop rural tourism. The stakeholders, who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, agreed that Nigeria was endowed with various natural tourism potentials. Mallam Abdullahi Gambo, a tourism consultant, said a country like Kenya, without oil or any notable mineral resource, had an exceptionally buoyant economy generated from tourism resources, its economic mainstay.
Nigeria can borrow a leaf from Kenya by rediscovering itself in the dynamics of its tourism potential. “Aside from oiling the country’s socio-economic wheels of progress, a conscious, sustained and multi-dimensional coordination and promotion of the country’s tourism potentials will greatly boost revenue generation in the country.’’ He said that the potentials were not manmade and therefore “we should be grateful to God for this’’. Gambo, therefore, asked for increased patronage by locals, to develop the sector.
All over the world, tourism is now receiving a massive boost. “Just as there are hundreds of tribes in Nigeria, so are there cultural and traditional diversities which, in themselves, are tourist attractions. “Each of these peculiarities can be packaged to attract tourists with the attendant boost to the local economies,’’ he said. He observed that even the people in the localities, where the tourist sites were found, do not visit those sites.
You will be surprised that many indigenes of the rural tourism sites have never visited the sites right under their noses; so, how can they tell outsiders what potentials they have in their individual areas? “Some parents even warn their children to steer clear of the sites, saying it is dangerous to visit them and even the elites among them still prefer international tourism. “The elites travel abroad just to show off; I am telling them now to bring that money back to our communities so that we can develop what is obtainable abroad,’’ he said. Another tourism consultant, Mr Emeka Attamah, in his view on the issue said that the tourism industry would only grow when Nigerians begin to appreciate and patronise tourist sites in their communities. “If we appreciate and patronise our rural tourist sites and also talk about them, we will be, unwittingly, advertising them to the outside world.
We will be able to boost the industry and also show the world that we have places worth visiting,’’ he said. Attamah advised Nigerians to consciously make the effort to promote and advertise their local tourist sites. “We should embark on intensive and extensive promotion of our tourism selling points as a means of encouraging, not only the international community, but our own people, to explore our tourist attractions.’’ He criticised the minimal support given to the development of rural tourism by different tiers of government in Nigeria.
Government, especially the local governments, should invest in tourism in order to attract visitors as well as create jobs in the industry. “It is necessary for the private sector to be involved in the growth and development of rural tourism in the country.
The local governments should get involved by doing what they can, at their own levels, to develop the potentials that exist within their own domains,’’ he said. Attamah emphasised the need for communities to tap into their cultural and tourism potentials to boost business activities and employment opportunities within the area. He said that this could be far reaching for those involved in the production of arts and crafts, foods and wines, recreation, music and dance, among others. “I am certain that the hospitality sector would be the better for it,’’ Attamah said. (NAN)

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