A former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Nigeria has latent opportunities in the tourism sector, which if explored would generate revenues that could rival, if not exceed the income from oil and gas.
Obasanjo made the remark recently in Lagos while addressing the 41st session of the non elective annual general meeting (AGM) of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) as special guest of honour.
Speaking on the AGM’s theme: “Tourism in a Recessed Economy,’ the former president described tourism as a catalyst for growing any economy in contemporary times and said if properly harnessed it could take the country out of its present economic recession.
Obasanjo observed that for a country as blessed as Nigeria, its nationals and government have no reason to look elsewhere for their source of economic growth.
“We need to pay attention to tourism. People are still travelling everywhere and that shows that with tourism there will be nothing like recession in Nigeria. We should even pay more attention to domestic tourism. A lot of Nigerians don’t travel much within the country and it is something we need to embrace. Domestic tourism can generate a lot of revenue for the country,” the former President said.
Obasanjo whose speech was read on his behalf by the President of NANTA, Mr. Bankole Bernard said he was working hard to turn Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, into a major tourist site.
In a keynote speech, a former Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demureen, said with tourism Nigeria could end economic recession and strengthen the nation’s currency.
He therefore charged the travel agents to look inwards and focus their attention marketing the many tourists’ attractions in the country that need to be explored by Nigerians and foreigners alike.
The CEO of Nigeria’s major domestic carrier, Medview Airline PLC, Alhaji Muneer Bankole who shared his experience and how his foray in tourism and aviation ignited his investment impulse, remarked that recession offers the best opportunity for the country and people to diversify their source of revenue and he urged travel agents to be more creative and innovative as there are a lot of business opportunities in the aviation and tourism markets to explore.
Earlier in his welcome address, NANTA president, Bernard, charged his members to remain steadfast and resolute in their business, noting that NANTA was set up to assist and boost the country’s tourism potential and create jobs for citizens.