By Palma Ileye
Federal Government has restated commitments to boosting the nation’s economy through tourism and hospitality development.
This commitment was made known by the Minister of Tourism, Lola Ade -John on the occasion of 2023 World Tourism Day held yesterday at ICC in Abuja.
Ably represented by the Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, NIHOTOUR, Alh Nura Sani Kangiwa, the Minister stated that this year’s celebration with the theme ‘Tourism and Green Investments’ was an opportunity to reflect on ways to enhance the contribution of tourism-to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, adopted by the United Nations in 2015.
He stated that the theme, which according to the UNWTO, was one of the key priorities for tourism’s recovery and future growth and development, was meant to highlight the need for more and 1 better-targeted investments for people, the planet and prosperity.
Kangiwa noted a few key points for the growth and development of tourism in Nigeria namely as: Community Empowerment: which he explained that sustainable tourism empowers local communities through education, skills development, job creation and supporting small businesses.
Also, noting that utilising the profoundity of knowledge from indigenes, with a focus on women and the youth was paramount to wealth creation for generations to come.
He stated that the global tourism workforce will require millions of hospitality graduates annually between now and 2030 and a further 800,000 jobs a year will require specific vocational training. For these reasons, “we need to invest in our people as they are the foundation of tourism.”
Others he explained were, “We must encourage community based tourisin initiatives that allow communities to reap the rewards of tourism while preserving their way of life.
“To do this, we must foster a welcoming and accommodating atmosphere for visitors. We need to embrace and love ourselves, exhibit politeness, cleanliness, and a strong sense of national pride that aims to draw in the attention of a diverse range of travellers.
“This is what I refer to as “The Preaching According to Tourism.” The goal is to create an environment that combines global standards with the distinctive charm of our nation. When we can attract the average tourist like the backpackers exploring the jungles in Bali or the couple visiting the expanses of stunning mountains and valleys in Kyrgyzstan, then we know we have made it.
“My mission is simple. Firstly, to create and promote Nigeria’s tourism products in the diaspora and at home. They are vast, plentiful and core to revenue I no generation for the country. For example, the grand opening of La CampaTropicana in Ondo state that is incidentally launching today.
“This is one of hundreds of tourism products that already exist within the country and requm adequate publicity, we must develop, maintain and promote them. Secondill taking tourism to the community level, showcasing the hidden gems of tvillages in all the regions of our picturesque and diverse country.
“Advocating teaching and preaching: ‘The Preaching According to Tourism’ is the true essence of creating sustainable tourism in Nigeria.
“Collaboration and Partnerships: Achieving the vision of green tourism requires collaboration among Local, State, Federal and International Governments, private sector investors, development partners, and the international community. Let us come together to pool our resources, share knowledge, and innovate for a sustainable future.
“Sustainable Tourism Development: Our commitment to green investments in tourism means promoting sustainable practices at every level. We must ensure that the beauty we showcase today remains for future generations to enjoy. Nigeria is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, from prolific rainforests to arid savannas. Protecting our natural heritage and cultural diversity is not just a responsibility but an investment in our future. Through responsible waste management, energy efficiency, and eco-friendly infrastructure development we will conserve our wildlife, protected areas and heritage to ensure their preservation.
“Investment in Renewable Energy: Green investments also mean transitioning to renewable energy sources to power our tourism infrastructure. Solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy solutions can reduce our carbon footprint and lower operational costs.
“Studies show that the need to reduce these carbon emissions provides an investment opportunity of $24.7 trillion in the green buildings sector of emerging market cities.
“Such investments will contribute to economic growth by creating jobs, fostering innovation, and promoting the resilience of businesses and communities in the face of climate change.
“Digital Transformation: Innovation and technology are requisite for the tourism industry. Key investments will allow for cross-sectorial impact and have a multiplier effect.
“Digitisation of the tourism sector will improve data collection and analysis; enhance accessibility, generate a competitive advantage, augment sustainable initiatives and improve cost efficiency. This will in turn improve the customer experience and strengthen strategic projects to stipulate tourism recovery.”
He stated that the country can not ignore the numerous challenges that plague the industry but the nation can advance gradually, speedily and successfully to overcome them with the guidance, support and collaboration of all Stakeholders.
He said, we will ensure that we continuously preach “The Preaching According to Tourism” so that we were all in alignment on how to make this journey truly fruitful.
He also said that there was evidence that the Government has taken an unprecedented series of actions and measures to enhance the performance of the sector – the creation of a separate Ministry for Tourism by President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, the first in the history of Nigeria; the implementation of the Establishment Acts for the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority, NTDA and the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, NIHOTOUR, giving these agencies the full legal framework to deliver on their mandates of implementing Government policies on tourism development and promotion, as well as human capacity development for the sector.
Adding that there is no doubt that these strategies were milestone achievements in the development of Nigeria’s tourism industry.
He further called on Nigerians, to reflect on the transformative power of tourism and the immense potential it holds for the nation saying that, “we must embrace a future where tourism not only brings economic prosperity but also protects our-environment and uplifts our communities.”
Furthermore, he called to action to invest in Nigeria’s tourism sector with a green conscience, ensuring that our natural and cultural treasures remain vibrant and accessible to all.
He also stated that the future of Nigerian tourism was rich “and together, we will unlock its full potential.”