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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Nigeria possesses potential for best tourist destination – experts

Some experts in the tourism sector have said that Nigeria has the potential to over take Dubai as best tourist destination in the world.
They spoke to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews on Tuesday in Abuja.
Chief Tomi Akingbogun, President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN),said that Nigeria possessed the adequate tourist sites, festivals and cultural events that could attract tourists from all parts of the world.
“From Argugun in Kebbi State to Calabar in Cross River State, From Osun/Oshogbo Festival to the Abuja Carnival; in fact Nigeria has a lot of heritage and tourist sites.
“The unfortunate thing is that these potential sites have been lying fallow for so many years without getting the needed attention that could attract tourists,” he said.
Akingbogun  said that some festivals which could attract tourists in the country were now moribund.
“I believe that if out tourist sites are developed and our cultural festivals and carnival enhanced, we will overtake Dubai as the best tourist destination.
“Nigerians are talented and good at medicine, religion, culture, education and so on. If we develop these areas, all aspect of tourism including religion, medical and festival, will attract tourists to the country.
“But for us to attain that status, private sector involvement is very paramount, the government cannot do it all alone, they need to involve the private sector to make progress in the sector,’’ Akingbogun added.
Akingbogun commended the effort of the present  administration in the development of the sector.
He said Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, had facilitated the resuscitation of the Presidential Committee on Tourism which is the highest decision making body on tourism in the country.
“By the time the committee starts sitting, I believe Nigerian will achieve massive progress in the tourism sector.
“With the passion of the minister to replace the country’s oil industry with tourism, I believe we will make headway.
“By the time our country begins to attract tourists traffic, revenue from the oil industry will just be a marginal sources of revenue to the government; tourism can feed Nigeria,’’ Akingbogun said.
Mr Aliyu Bada, also an expert, said there was the need to enhance professionalism in the country’s tourism sector.
He underscored the fact that some operators in the tourism industry were not professionals, saying that the non-availability of such would incapacitate the needed progress and development of the sector.
“There is an urgent need to make laws that will regulate the operators and the industry as a whole.
“I know there are agencies like National Institute for Cultural Orientation, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation and others, who are putting their best to enhance professionalism.
“But that is not enough; there should be clear laws to ensure that intended operators coming into the industry are certified like doctors for hospital, lawyers for court/judiciary and Pharmacist for drugs,’’ Badaki said.
According to him, enhancement of professionalism in the tourism sector could move Nigeria to the next level in competing with countries like Dubai, Kenya, Tanzania, The Gambia and others.
He also corroborated Akingbogun’s view on the fact that Nigeria possessed tourist sites and events that could attract tourists, but left underdeveloped. (NAN)
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