By Jimoh Babatunde
The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe has charged banks in the country to take interest in the development of Tourism by investing in the sector.
The NTDC boss made this known recently while presenting a paper on â€œmicrofinance banks and the need to invest in Tourismâ€ during the one day conference on developing local governments through Microfinance Banks organized by Leadership group in Abuja.
Otunba Runsewe stressed the need for microfinance Banks in the country to take tourism serious and invest in the sector.
According to him, â€œmicrofinance institutions see tourism as not a serious businessâ€. He explained that if Tourism is empowered it would be better for the people as it the largest employer of labour in the world.
He explained that time has come when Tourism should be taken seriously. In the words of the D G, NTDC:â€Tourism is the newest way of impacting and empowering the people. He said that when we got Tourism right, wealth would be created, unemployment would have reduced and crime rate would drop drastically .
According to him: â€œwe have taken too much liberty on oilâ€ Thus the time to diversify the economy is now.
He cited copious examples of countries that are doing very well in Tourism such as Dubai, South Africa and Kenya.
He stated that as at 1994 Dubai was still a desert, but today the country makes about 170 million dollars monthly on visa procurement alone.
The NTDC helmsman stressed that Nigeria had better Tourism potentials than most of these countries but we have depended so much on a mono product which is oil.
He decried the present state of TINAPA business Resort in Calabar with about 300 rooms locked up for no reason. According to him, TINAPA is the only type in Africa and one could imagine the type of business flow it would attract to the country if it were functional, considering the fact that Calabar has one of the best ports in the Africa.
Otunba Runsewe therefore stressed the need for us to get it right and focus on things that strengthens us as a Nation.
The D G condemned the incessant crisis in Jos which he described as â€œunfortunateâ€. He qualified Jos as â€œGod given heaven of the worldâ€ that has the potentials to attract millions of tourists all over the world for its temperate weather which is close to what we have in Europe.
The NTDC boss later assured that he would liaise with the leadership group on how to carry further the awareness on the need for banks to invest in the tourism sector via editorials and advertorials in the newspaper as the case may be.
He commended the leadership group for touching the lives of Nigerians through such a forum. He stressed that the newspaper started not too long ago but has made giant strides in theÂ Journalism profession within a short space of time. He explained that the newspaper has touched the key areas of our economy using roundtable discourse.
The NTDC boss was decorated as the CEO of the year by the Leadership Group for visionary leadership received a standing ovation after he had done justice to his paper.