By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar
If the tourism sector of the nation is properly harnessed, no fewer than 20 million jobs could be created in tre sector, to reduce the army of unemployed youths roaming the streets of Nigeria on daily basis.
This was the contention of the National President of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, AOPA, Alexander Nwuba, while speaking at the National Tourism Transportation Summit, organised by the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria, ITPN, held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
Nwuba stated that the 1.6 per cent employment rate currently being provided by the sector is grossly inadequate, considering Nigeria’s potentials, a situation he said is negatively impacting on economy of the nation.
He said, “When we talk of tourism, we are talking of jobs and opportunities. For instance, Dubai, which is naturally a desert, has created space for millions of youths to have good employment. If you look at other countries and models, you hear of nothing less than 20 percent of the population being employed in the tourism sector.
“The beauty of it is that youths can be employed in tourism as well as adults. Farming is tourism, storytelling, agriculture are all part of tourism. We are talking here of about 20 to 30 million jobs that we can create under tourism in Nigeria, because the country has the potential to do well.
“Tourism is not something esoteric, it is not only about mountains, hills, forests and monkeys, it also involves taking our cultures, arts, artifacts and selling them to people who have not experienced them.”
Speaking earlier, the National President of ITPN, who also doubles as the Chairman, Inter-ministerial Committee, National Tourism Transportation Summit and Expo, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo, stressed that tourism is one sector in the nation’s economy that could be taken to a higher pedestal, if it partners other relevant sectors, like transportation.
Odusanwo said, “The connectivity brought by road, rail, air and maritime transport is at the heart of tourism development, providing substantial economic benefits for all involved in the tourism value chain. Tourism and transportation can play vital roles in creating employment opportunities, both directly and indirectly, through their linkages to local economic activities.
“We are trying to bridge the gap between tourism and transportation. For too long, those in the tourism sector had been operating all alone; likewise those in other relevant sectors, like the transportation. For the system to be properly harnessed, those in the rail, maritime and aviation industries should work together with the tourism sector.
“The challenge that the tourism sector has in Nigeria is connectivity. We are talking about movement of people and that is why there should be synergy among various relevant sectors. Besides creating jobs, I have it on record that over 40 per cent of agric produce is consumed by the tourism sector, it is the single largest consumer of the agric produce, which is why attention should be given to it.”
He revealed that the
Federal Government has given approval to the annual ITPN summit in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation and other government ministries/agencies, non-governmental organizations and private stakeholders across the transportation modes, tourism and hospitality value chain for economic growth and development.
In his welcome remarks, the Cross River State Commissioner for Transport and Marine Services, Mr. Oqua Edet Oqua, stated that the Professor Ben Ayade administration is one that is so prepared to give a boost to tourism development and called on stakeholders in the industry to come and do business in the state.