2019 Nigeria General Elections: Who Answers the Tourism Question?



Posted by JUSTOURS

Nigeria will be going to the polls this month, most of the candidates, presidential and gubernatorial aspirants in the 2019 General Elections, obviously, are not taking tourism seriously. You begin to worry if a new government coming in place in May can give tourism a pride of place. Apparently the tourism awareness has not really caught on when it comes to economic space.

All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, Muhammadu Buhari is not talking tourism, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar is not talking tourism just as the other aspirants who are organizing their campaigns across the country.

Tourism industry practitioners said it shouldn’t be so because one of the industries that can turn the Nigerian economy around is tourism and they should know about tourism because the taste of the pudding is in the eating.

 They point pointedly at what Lagos Ambode Akinwunmi is doing for tourism saying that it is commendable. From the outset, it was clear Ambode meant business because during his campaign as All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in 2015, Akinwunmi was laying emphasis on the fact that he wants to turn Lagos State to a tourism hub.

Why tourism?

Tourism is an export earner.  Where you have foreigners coming into your country you always earn exports.  In other words, people are bringing in foreign exchange to spend in your economy. The same thing when you export your product out, you earn foreign exchange. People are not aware of the potential of tourism.

Buhari didn’t include tourism to their economic plan during 2015 General Elections  campaign. Tagged ‘Buhari Means Business’ he said farming and mining will be given high priority.

Buharidid not include tourism as one of the areas his administration will pay more attention to create wealth for our people, from our culture, our food, costumes, crafts and hospitality and people saw the negative impact.

Tourism industry operators said government is paying lip-service to the travel and tourism sector, complaining that Tourism, the leading foreign exchange earner and representing one in every seven jobs, ought to be a crucial factor in Nigeria’s economic recovery.

No wonder in 2016, when crude oil prices fell worldwide and it was driving a rethink. People started thinking, all of a sudden the big revenue earner is drying up, so they were looking at what new area they can now go into. Interestingly, people were looking at tourism.

Interestingly, oil producing countries such as United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are focusing on diversification. They looked to tourism as oil prices loomed. Nigeria was not in the picture despite being blessed with huge tourist attractions, natural and man-made, lush rain forest, unforgettable culture and uniue cool upland climate.

Beyond paying lip service to tourism, we must create the environment for tourism to thrive and that is what has been missing.

We need to embrace tourism because if we are going to drive foreign investment in Nigeria, tourism is going to open the door. Because any serious investor will come into the economy first and foremost as a tourist to look at, to see what you have to offer before they make that critical decision to invest. I think this is the time for Nigerians to wake up to the reality that they need to embrace tourism. You know you have to develop your crafts and you have to develop your manufacturing. The missing link should be driving a rethink.

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