Promote Nigeria as tourist destination, ART president tells govt

The President, Aviation Roundtable, Gbenga Olowo, says government at all levels as well as the private sector should promote tourism and make the country a tourist destination.

“Once tourism is made attractive to tourists especially foreigners, the contribution of the sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product will increase and create more jobs for the teeming populace,” he said.

 Olowo who made this known at his induction as a Fellow of the Institute for Tourism Professionals, in Abuja recently, said the country had lots of tourism destinations to promote, but that many of these sites remained undeveloped.

 According to him, Nigeria already has tourism on ground, but needs to package, brand and market whatever it, while practitioners have to work harder and turn tourism to good economic investment.

 Olowo said, “The travel agencies, tour operators and by extension the Ministry of Information and Culture should do more. Information remains grossly inadequate both at our embassies and all media. We should begin to market our tourist sites. Israel is fighting wars yet tourism, medicine and agriculture remain their primary economic strength.

 “I landed at night in Kano State recently and surprisingly found everywhere lit. Kano is so beautiful and there are several cities like that in the country today. A tour of Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt by night with dinner and show lasting three hours or thereabout will be an attractive package any day. As we speak, Uyo is hosting lady golfers in Africa. Tour packages should be part of such tournament.”

 He said his induction as a fellow of the ITP, was a challenge to do more for the tourism industry, adding that after over 45 years in travel trade sector, the president and council of the ITP had not misplaced their judgement as fellowship was the highest level of a practitioner in any professional institute and a honour well deserved.

“For me, tourism is still not where it ought to be, it is far behind simply hinging the wrong perception that Nigeria is not save. I beg to disagree,” he added.

The Lead Quality Assurance Verifier, ITP, Abdullahi Sheriff, said the institute created to ensure that professionals speak in unison.

According to him, membership cuts across the entire value chain of tourism, transportation, hospitality and culture industries among others.

“Continuous development of the sector is critical to the nation’s development. The tourism sector requires skills and there are plans to improve the ITP status, where its graduates will participate in the regular National Youth Service Corps programmes. People must be trained to get the characteristics of the industry,” he said.
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