Nigeria and World Tourism Day – Blueprint Newspapers Limited
Today is celebrated by the global community as World Tourism Day. The day was set aside by the United Nations Tourism Organization in 1980. The cardinal aim of the celebration is to raise awareness around the world about long-term planning and development, as well as to harness the multiple benefits of tourism.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is âLeaving No One Behindâ. September 27 is celebrated as World Tourism Day across the world. Since the 1980s, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has celebrated this day to raise awareness of the role of tourism in the global community and its impact on social, political and cultural values ââaround the world.
Available statistics have shown the huge dividends from tourism in the areas of economic, social, global peace and friendship, among others. The experiences of Kenya, The Gambia, Egypt and South Africa illustrate how countries have derived their economic growth and development from tourism.
Over the past six decades, countries and tourist destination sites have grown steadily, from 25 million tourists to over 1.4 billion. Likewise, revenues from tourism operations also increased from $ 2 billion in 1950 to $ 1,260 billion in 2015, representing around 10% of global GDP and one in 10 jobs.
Tourism has become one of the most dynamic sectors of the world economy. It is undeniable that it is in the best interest of tourist destination countries to develop the sector on a sustainable basis to enable them to gradually improve their capacity to get the most out of the money-spinning sector.
The state and federal government of the country caught global fever when a day was set aside to mark tourism. Its seriousness has been demonstrated by the creation of tourism ministries. Blessed with a breathtaking and sprawling geography, cultural heterogeneity and a plethora of historic sites and monuments, the Nigerian landscape is undoubtedly of great promise for a sector that can compete favorably with black gold in terms of revenue. in foreign currencies.
However, due to the easy and quick money flowing from the petroleum sector, tourism has been woefully neglected like other sectors of our economy such as agriculture and solid minerals. For example, it is more primarily through the patriotic efforts of private sector participants that the annual Osun Osogbo festival has continued to survive. The same goes for the Carnival of Calabar which began a few years ago and propelled the âcity of Canaanâ to the forefront of the world stage.
On the other hand, the once lively Argungu Fishing Festival alongside the famous Argungu Car Rally, Yankari Game Reserve, Jos Animal Park, Olumo Rock, Waterfalls Asop as well as the boat regatta in the coastal areas of the country have all but disappeared … considering that the slave castle of Elmina in Ghana has continued to attract tourists keen to get a glimpse of the horrific experience of the victims transatlantic slavery; Nigeria’s similar monuments to Calabar, Lagos and Badagry are now becoming insignificant on the map of global tourism.
Other potential tourist destinations across the country include the Mambilla Plateau, whose potential income could very well have competed hugely with the country’s income from the oil sector. There is the Gashaka-Gumti Gane reserve, the Ngel-Nyaki forest reserve and the numerous pure and indigenous festivals of the Taraba axis which, if fully organized, would have freed the state from being considered the l one of the poorest states in Nigeria today. The states of Yobe and Borno have between them the world famous Dagona Bird Sanctuary which phenomenally attracts different species of birds from Europe, North America, Australia and Asia fleeing the harsh effects of winter on these continents.
There’s also the 8,000-year-old Dafuna Canoe, the Tulo-Tulowa, also known as the ‘Desert Land of Hope’ and, of course, the sadly remote Lake Chad, which in a different climate , would have been maintained and developed as a huge tourist and economic center. These few examples are, in our opinion, that the government should have done a lot more for their livelihood and growth.
At a time when Nigeria is committed to divesting its economy from petroleum, and given the growing economic and other projected benefits of tourism, Nigeria needs to wake up and look to the tourism industry among other strategies and options in line with the precepts of sustainable development. Goals (SDGs). We recommend that only qualified individuals be appointed to oversee relevant agencies and other departments. Tourism is a specialized industry and the people appointed to oversee it must be those who have the required qualifications and not on the basis of political patronage.
The government should also increase its financing of the sector for infrastructure development. The need to present Nigerian tourist attractions to the world on international mass media platforms, our embassies and other forums cannot be overstated enough to further strengthen patronage from around the world. Efforts should also aim to encourage and attract private sector participation. We also call on the government to step up its efforts to address security challenges in areas of the country that are able to throw a wet blanket over the area.
No tourist would look in the direction of a country teeming with terrorism, armed robberies, kidnappings and other allied crimes, no matter how attractive its tourist destinations. These are the crucial questions Nigeria should address as we join the global community in celebrating the annual ritual.