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Tourism Seminar Organised in Nigeria (Posted 29th Dec, 2001) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Tourism and its development have moved on a fast track, after years of neglect. This change is made possible by the renewed interest of the private sector in pumping the much-needed funds into this lucrative yet least-explored sector of the Nigerian economy. There is no gainsaying the fact that the tourism market is like a fattened unmilked cow ripe for milking. This realisation has recently dawned on the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo in his bid to find an alternative revenue stream to oil.

In the recent past the tourism sector has been dominated by private sector initiatives with minimal or no government input. This has led to the arithmetic progression of development in the sector as a viable contributor to the economy. But, the democratic dispensation which ushered in President Obasanjo has since 1999 been making concerted efforts to place the country on the tourism map of the world. This has led to the setting up of agencies focused on tourism and the resurrection of dead ones like the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) among others.

An important factor of note is the wide expanse of land area Nigeria occupies and the fact that virtually all the 774 local government councils are dotted with varying degree of tourist attractions. This is a testimonial to the richness of the Nigerian cultural heritage. Thus, the task of promoting and selling Nigeria tourist-wise to the world is the job of every Nigerian living within or outside the country. Though, kudos must be given to the efforts of both the private and public sector in this angle with the organising of numerous workshops, seminars and briefings to educate the public and investors on the opportunities that abound in the sector.

One of such efforts is the seminar organised by Perazim Travels & Tours Limited at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers on Tuesday 11, 2001. The seminar focused on Tourism Development In Nigeria: Public/Private Sector Partnership, with Mr. Tokunbo Ajasin, chairman of Wema Bank Plc. and member National Economic Intelligence Committee chairing the occasion. Supporting him on the high table are the Commissioner for Trade and Commerce in Lagos State, Chief Abiola Johnson, Ambassador Sola Olusola, a renown culturalist and the creator of the classic TV series, Village Headmaster, Mr. Charles Ojelade, President, National Association of Nigerian Traveling Agencies (NANTAP). The occasion presented another opportunity for tourism experts to gather and espouse on the achievements and challenges facing the industry.

Some papers were presented to give positional standpoints on various issues ranging from sourcing for funds in the industry, which according to Dr. Kingsley Onoha, a veteran in the field, is easy with both local and multilateral sources to choose from for funds. The publisher of Travellers Magazine, Mr. Ikechuckwu on his part addressed what tourism is all about. With a presentation that is laced with much statistical data he highlighted the contribution of tourism to the GDP of some selected countries with France having the largest share with 605 billion francs for year 2000 alone. He also mentioned the unlimited opportunities that exist in Nigeria for investors in the industry using the land transport, air travel, fast food geometric rise and hotel industry as case studies. Mr. Wale Akinboboye, the Director of La Campagne Tropicana and Beach Resort in his paper pointed out the role of government and the banking industry in stunting the growth of the sector in terms of non existence of infrastructural facilities and the credit facilities to support tourism practitioners. He used as illustration the story of an old reluctant chief that has a large expanse of choice beach land and his refusal to give up the land when he was approached by a foreign investor to give up the land for tourism purposes.

This occasion is one of many organised by the private sector to sensitise the public and indeed the banking sector to support the efforts of practitioners in terms of credit facilities to the tourism sub-sector. The issue of bank loans have been a much-debated issue among industry experts in tourism. Many banks are very reluctant to fund tourism projects due to the long-term span of such a loan in repayment. The occasion was spiced with the exhibition of art works, paintings and a stand by NTDC displaying materials indicating locations of the country's tourist attractions.


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