By Jimoh Babatunde
The Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, has said that tourism holds the key to Nigeria economic diversification as it is a veritable tool for stimulating rapid economic growth and development.
Runsewe who was speaking at a breakfast meeting on “Investment Opportunities in the Tourism Sector for the FCT” organized by the Abuja investment Company, listed the vast opportunities which the tourism and hospitality sector in Nigeria offers.
“The development of Tourism as a critical sector of the economy has gradually assumed a centre stage in the economic agenda of most nations of the world.
“In the past few decades, international attention on tourism as a critical sector of the economy has greatly increased. This is in view of its capacity to quickly stimulate income growth, generate foreign exchange and contribute to domestic earnings of government through fees and taxes”, Otunba Runsewe said.
In addition, “More than ever before, tourism is gaining recognition in Nigeria. It is being adopted by government as a vehicle for poverty alleviation, employment generation and wealth creation. It is also seen as a veritable tool for the realization of the millennium development goals.”
Otunba Runsewe asserted that he had adopted a “practical based” tourism as his style insisting that that is what Nigeria needs as an approach to tackling the socio-economic challenges facing the country especially in the tourism and hospitality sector revealing that the United Arab Emirate and other countries that were at par with Nigeria some 29 years ago had exploited their tourism sector as a way of advancing their overall social and economic wellbeing noting that today, the efforts have paid off handsomely.
The NTDC Boss used the opportunity to list tourism investment opportunities in the Federal Capital Territory highlighting on such key areas as conference tourism which he said is a viable option for the FCT as the FCT has several conference destinations like the International Conference Centre, ECOWAS building, Merit House and major hotels with the state-of-the-art conference facilities such as Transcorp Hilton, Sheraton, Nicon Luxury, among others.
Other investment opportunities in the FCT which the NTDC helmsman noted include Ecotourism which he said if properly harnessed will translate to massive returns because Abuja contained a vast land mass with beautiful scenery, abundant sunshine, reasonable waterfalls, exciting topography characterized by beautiful plains, awesome rock formations among other things.
Speaking further, Otunba Runsewe stated that tour packaging is very germane to economic development noting that “ investors could establish Tour Packaging companies for conducting guided tours for the tourists to the FCT and the adjoining destinations like Gurara Falls, Zuma Rock in Niger State and Farin Ruwa in Nassarawa State.
Other areas of investment prospects enumerated by the NTDC boss include exploring the art and craft industry, the collaboration of the Tour Operating and Travel Agencies, education tourism, culinary tourism, investment incentives and NTDC’s role in creating a regulatory framework for all tourism and hospitality establishments in Nigeria as provided for by the NTDC act.