The total contribution of travel and tourism to Nigerian economy has been estimated to be $1.1 billion.
According to a report from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the total contribution of travel and tourism to the global economy hit $7.6 trillion in 2016, about 10 per cent of the global GDP of $75.6 trillion.
Tourism seems to be a way of contributing to the nation’s economy and though its a tiny fraction of the global industry, but it also shows the gulf between the present reality and the potential of tourism for Nigeria.
The potential of tourism could be further enhanced with deliberate focus and more attention to turn around most of the nation’s tourist sites and turning them into wealth.
Mrs Sally Mbanefo, immediate past Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), said the sector generated the revenue from the more than 6.01 million tourists that visited the country in 2015.
“In 2014, about 4.8 million people arrived and the related expenditure was $853 million.
“In 2016, about 6.01 million came into Nigeria and the sector generated over $1.1 billion as the expenditure related to their arrival in this country.’’
Mbanefo explained that the situation was an economic indication of the value that tourism could add to an economy where the government and the private sector spur tourism.
She said that Nollywood alone, created job opportunities for more than two million persons, 30,000 work in restaurants and over 11,000 in the hotel business.
Mbanefo said that in spite of this more needed to be done to improve the sector to further compete globally.
She said that challenges limiting the growth of the sector should be address.
She listed them to include access to gathering statistics, epileptic power supply, inadequate infrastructure, poor access to visa, as well as absence of uniformed standardisation and classification for hotels nationwide.
Mr Ganiyu Tarzan, the President, Association of Tourists Boats Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATN), added that tourism had a link with all other sectors of economy whether religious, education, sport, business, agriculture and medicine.
Tarzan, therefore, urged the Federal Government, especially, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, to channel the allocation meant for the sector to rehabilitating of tourism projects across the country.
“I am very positive that if we have a functional heritage site and other attractions, they will boost the nation’s revenue and boost activities within other sectors of the economy as international tourists will be trooping into the country.
“Tourism is very important to all sectors and its budgetary allocation and implementation should be given adequate attention,” he said.
Similarly, Mrs Margret Fabiyi, the President of Webisco International Federation of Women Entrepreneurs and Tourism of Nigeria, tasked the Federal Government on the full implementation of Tourism Master Plan.
She said that this should be captured in the budget because it would serve as a guideline to tourism developmental projects.
Fabiyi commended the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) for its support to the development of the nation’s tourism sector.
She added that the government should consider building new tourism structures to attract national and international tourists.