The Senate during the week urged the Federal Government to consider excising culture and tourism from the Federal Ministry of Information to ensure the harnessing of tourism potential in the country.
The Senate also mandated its Committee on Information and Culture to consider summoning the Minister of Information and Culture to brief the members on the performance of culture and tourism sector.
The resolutions followed adoption of a motion at plenary by Sen. Fatimat Raji-Rasak (Ekiti), who said that there was a need for the country to formulate and adopt policies that would develop tourism in a sustainable manner.
Noting that tourism was a wealth creator, the lawmaker said, “it has become absolutely necessary for the Senate to intervene in a manner that will ensure that tourism is given priority in our development agenda.
“This is because of its globally recognised potential in contributing to the growth of local economies.
“Over the last decade, tourism has emerged as one of the largest economic sectors accounting for nine per cent of the world’s GDP and over 200 million jobs.
“Tourism offers millions of direct and indirect entry point into the workforce, particularly for youths and women and ensures diversity of investment opportunities for young entrepreneurial talents.’’
In his contribution, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia-PDP) said that Nigeria must develop its tourism potential in efforts to diversify the economy.
According to him, Nigeria is endowed but “we have not been able to develop what we have.
“This is important now that the country is diversifying its economy; we need to make our tourist sites beautiful and ensure they are well maintained to attract tourists.
“It is obvious that the discovery of oil made us leave our tourism potential underdeveloped,’’ Ohabunwa said.
On his part, Sen. Barau Jubrin called for the review of the country’s tourism policy with a view to having a workable one.
“The problem is that there is lack of workable tourism policy and to have a robust economy, there is need to have a sound tourism sector,’’ Jubrin said.
Similarly, Sen. Adokwe Suleiman said: “Nigeria has beautiful milestones but this is undermined by neglect and insurgency.
“Tourism has continued to be more of lip service; we need to demerge the ministry in order to give more focus on the development of tourism.’’
Stressing the need for the country’s tourist sites to be protected, Sen. Ben Bruce urged government at all tiers to make active efforts to promote tourism.
He also called for increased private sector participation in order to facilitate rapid development of the sector.