Harnessing Nigeria’s Tourism Potentials

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Not long ago, precisely on September 27, 2018, the global community commemorated the World Tourism Day. The annual event is set aside by the United Nations (UN) to specifically and specially arouse consciousness and awareness of the vast tourism potentials at the local, national and international levels.
The major objective of the global activity is to sensitise the world on the increasing and inevitable need to harness and boost tourism, especially cultural tourism, towards sustainable economic development, particularly through technological and digital platforms.
It is against this backdrop that the 2018 edition of the National Festival for Arts and culture, christened NAFEST Rivers 2018, becomes apt and appropriate, especially in this era when the need to diversify Nigeria’s economic base is getting more compelling and imperative.
Jointly sponsored by the Rivers State Government and the National Council for Arts and Culture, the seven-day event will feature training session on entrepreneurship, free medical services, culture market, exhibition of local fabrics, wrestling, drama and dancing competitions, folklores, traditional cuisines, boat regatta and command performance, among others.
The Tide, therefore, commends the vision of the organisers of the festivity, particularly the Rivers State government, for deeming it necessary to float this unique event in a country that solely relies on oil and gas as major sustenance of her economy.
In a world that is increasingly becoming more dynamic, innovative and competitive, it behoves any responsible and responsive government to explore and diversify, leveraging on local and inherent natural and human potentials for sustainable advancement.
Cultural tourism is, therefore, the way forward and the NAFEST Rivers 2018 is not a misplaced priority if properly handled. Tourism, indeed, provides a viable option to foster economic expansion in developing societies such as ours.
In a monoproduct economy such as Nigeria’s, the government, as well as the private sector (investors), must look inwards and beyond oil and gas to cater for the exploding population.
As some say, government may not be a good business manager, therefore, cultural tourism should be private-sector driven while government must strive to provide the enabling environment for the sector to thrive.
Nigeria and, indeed, Rivers State is richly endowed with many tourism sites, artifacts and potentials that could generate huge stable revenue if properly harnessed.
The NAFEST Rivers 2018 can, therefore, be the template for the cultural tourism revolution that would eventually turn Nigeria’s economy around.
The Obudu Cattle Ranch, Olumo Rock, Tinapa, Zuma rock, Yankari Game Reserve, Water Park Apapa, Oguta Lake, Mambilla Plateau, Water Falls, Ikogosi Warm Spring, and numerous beaches found all over the country can be successfully harnessed and formed into major revenue earners if carefully arranged.
It is, indeed, regrettable that Nigeria, despite its vast tourism potentials still falls behind countries such as South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Tunisia, some of which are comparatively less endowed. It is in fact, an irony.
Lamentably, the 2017 Annual Economic Report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that tourism in Nigeria accounted for a paltry 1.7 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016, translating to a meager N1.8 billion which ranked Nigeria as 171st among 198 countries surveyed that year.
The Tide, therefore, calls for greater synergy and commitment among stakeholders for a better tourism blueprint. Nafest Rivers 2018 serves as a unique window.