The Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo yesterday said that the tourism sector generated over $1.1 billion in 2015. Mbanefo disclosed this during a two-day Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition. The forum is being organised by the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) in collaboration with NTDC and the National Institute for Hospitality and NIHOTOUR in Abuja. The theme of the forum is “Tourism: Tool for Economic and Development.’’

According to her, the tourism sector generated the revenue from the related expenditure incurred from the more than 6.01 million tourists that visited the country in 2015.

She stated that the balance of $853 million was generated from 4.8 million tourists that visited in 2014. ”In 2014, about 4.8 million people arrived and the related expenditure was $853 million. While in 2016, about 6.01 million came into Nigeria and we generated over $1.1 billion as the expenditure related to their arrival in this country. This is an economic indication of the value that tourism can have in any economy where the government and the private sector give value to it.’’

The D-G said that Nollywood had created job opportunities for more than two million persons, 30,000 work in restaurants and over 11,000 in the hotel business.

She, however, listed some of the challenges affecting the sector to include access to gathering statistics, epileptic power supply, inadequate infrastructure, poor access to visa, as well as absence of uniformed standardisation and classification for hotels nationwide.

She therefore stressed the need for investors to tap into the abundant opportunities that abound in the sector, adding that it had also created job opportunities and unified the diverse cultures in the country.

Also speaking, the National President, Association of Royal Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, Dr Thomas Obiefule reiterated the commitment of traditional leaders towards improving the tourism sector.

”We are living in a challenging time, yet tourism continues to bring us hope. In spite of slow and uneven global economic recovery, growing geopolitical challenges, health scares and security concerns, there is hope. In spite of the Nigerian economic recession facing us, there is hope for tourism to create jobs, reduce poverty and make life meaningful to the rural dwellers.

”We the traditional leaders will join hands to make the Change Agenda work for the tourism industry in spite of the economic recession, culture and tourism will help Nigeria to come out from recession,’’ he said. Obiefule also commended the efforts of the organisers in providing a platform for stakeholders to exhibit their wares and proffer solutions to revamp the tourism sector.

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