A Tourism master plan is important to the development of the Tourism sector. Especially, in Nigeria where the Tourism sector has been identified with major economic and human development issues, such as alleviation of poverty, employment generation, etc.
In 2005, the then President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, set up a Presidential Committee to come up with a Nigeria Tourism Development Master Plan. This was with the active support of key Tourism bodies including the UNWTO and one Tourism Development International Ltd, a Nigerian firm. Shortly after a report was delivered, including a draft and final report; written between February to November 2005.
I hope the jury is not closed on the need for a Federal Ministry of Tourism in Nigeria?
Personally, I believe there are several legal arguments on the need for such a ministry at the Federal Govt level, notwithstanding the 2013 Supreme Court Judgement. The judgment is roundly either celebrated or denounced because it gives State Govts right to collect revenue from hotels.
The need for a Tourism Ministry to the sustainable growth of the industry in Nigeria transcends which Arm of Govt collect taxes or generate revenue. Without a national Tourism Ministry we are not likely to have an 'investable' tourism industry. Different States would be doing different things without a cohesive Nigeria tourism product or brand. Hence, I like the idea being canvassed about mainstreaming tourism policies in Nigeria using a top to bottom approach, i.e. the Federal government leading State Governments approach.
The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has once again charged President Muhammadu Buhari to delineate, prioritize and fund a new Federal Ministry of Tourism in Nigeria. The President of FTAN, Alhaji Saleh Rabo, made this call in Abuja yesterday, Tuesday March 19th 2019, when Mrs. Opakiriti Josephine Nzobiwu, the new Director of Domestic Tourism at the Ministry of Information and Culture, went on a familiarization visit to the headquarters of FTAN in Asokoro Abuja.
It is stale news that Nigeria's tourism industry is grossly under-developed, no thanks to successive governments economic misadventure. Worse still, the present government's much touted economic diversification drive tilts more towards solid minerals exploration than agriculture, tourism and services sector developments.
Notwithstanding, tourism is an international business, hence one may not be surprised at our governments lack of entrepreneurial capacity and limited actionable knowledge of how to strategically midwife the economic development of tourism in Nigeria.
Over the years, the Nigeria tourism industry has been bedevilled by plethora of problems, both simple and complex. But these problems are not without solutions. Hence, this piece seeks to bring to light some of the prevailing challenges in the industry and proffer solutions to the malaise.
It was comforting when, in April 2012, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) released an analytical report on Nigeria’s tourism that read, “travel and tourism generated 838, 500 jobs directly in 2011 (1.4 percent total employment), and is forecasted to grow by seven percent in 2012 to 897, 500.
Recently, Africa Leadership Forum published an article on Nigeria, looking for the good in our corrupt nation. It states that: “Nigeria’s image over the years has been negatively affected by stories of corruption, mismanagement, fraud and other forms of crime reported in local and international media. Indeed, acts of criminality are even celebrated by a section of the Nigerian public, giving the impression that the nation is one of thieves and crooks. For anyone without any direct contact with Nigeria or Nigerians, it would seem that ours is a cesspit of value atrophy.” This is no hyperbole, in fact it is even a toned-down description of the calamities we as Nigerians wake up to every morning. We read in our newspapers tales of corruption in high places, misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, conniving, violence, rape, armed robbery, scarcity, power failure, rituals and kidnappings.