By Jimoh Babatunde
The Director-General of theÂ Â Â Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe has said that the Tourism industry in Nigeria fared better in the last three years. He disclosed this recently in Abuja while delivering an award lecture at Shehu Musa Yarâ€™Adua Centre on Tourism AsÂ A Vehicle for Sustaninable Economic Development, to mark the first anniversary of Press Gallery National Newspaper.
His words:Â â€œLet me state with due sense of modesty that the tempo of activities in the Nigerian tourism industry has greatly improved in the last three yearsâ€.
He stated that the improvement was possible because NTDC continued to create the enabling environment for the development of the sector through effective regulatory framework, strategic engagement with stakeholders and aggressive publicity and marketing campaign programmes, among other factors.
He explained that the negative image of the country as overblown by the Western Media in the past had remained central in the efforts of the Corporation at repackaging and positively projecting the country at the international tourism fair, NTDC usually showcases Nigeria as â€œthe ultimate destination in Africa and to debunk the erroneous impression that the country is not safeâ€. Â
The NTDC boss further said that tremendous efforts had also been made by the Corporation to promote, support and project our cultural festivals as vehicles for fast-tracking the sector.
He stated that in the past three years, the Corporation had supported over 30 cultural festivals and events across the country.
The NTDC helmsman also expressed the determination of the Corporation to develop tourism villages in all the states of the federation. Consequently, the Corporation has established a tourism village model at its headquarters.
According to him, the NTDC tourism village experiment offers employment to over 100 Nigerians under the public- private partnership arrangement.
His words: â€œIt is our conviction that the replication of this model on a larger scale in each of the states of the federation would greatly reduce unemployment and curb youth restiveness and other social vices.â€
He added that the introduction of GPSR navigator, telephone maps, street maps of the 36 states and the FCT, and the mounting of directional signages are all efforts at opening up the Nigerian Tourism market and making it readily accessible to tourists in line with international practice.
Otunba Runsewe called on state governments to pay greater attention to the tourism industry with a view to confronting unemployment and mass poverty ravaging our nation today.Â
According to him, â€œTourism cannot flourish where we have Tour operators without vehicles to facilitate toursâ€.
He also called on the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the tourism industry to invest in the sector because without active private sector investment, the industry cannot grow.
He explained that Nigeria has all the potentials needed to develop her tourism and cultural assets even more than most countries that are presently reaping the benefits from their tourism development. Â
He added that all the country needed was the political will to take tourism to the next level.
While commending theÂ publisher and his team, Otunba saidÂ â€œI salute your tenacity of purpose, clarity of focus and commitment to the principles and ideals of journalismâ€.