Budget Office advocates financing of tourism destinations

Posted: July 24, 2017 in general

SavedPicture-20161218205728.jpgBudget Office of the Federation has stated that the tourism sector is capable of driving short-term growth and longer-term structural change in the country. This is just as the agency called for the financing of the various tourist destinations spread across the country.

Director-General of the agency, Mr Ben Akabueze, who said this while making a presentation; “Financing as a Catalyst to Sustainable Tourism Development,’’ at the 20th Annual General Meeting and Election of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Thursday, in Abuja, further noted that the tourism sector was recognised in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government as one of the ingredients needed to achieve economic growth.

“The sector offers the opportunity for job creation, especially among youths in Nigeria. Also, the ERGP recognises that the rich bio-diversity in Nigeria’s ecosystem, our cultural diversity, historical cities and arts and craft are yet to be fully exploited.

“By addressing under-developed infrastructure, security challenges, lack of attractive options for vacationing at home, and insufficient investment, the sector is expected to contribute to government revenues and foreign exchange earnings,’’ Akabueze , who was represented at the event by his Technical Assistant, Miss Olayinka Babalola, said.

Akabueze explained that the objectives of the policy was to enhance contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increase numbers of visitors to Nigeria by 10 per cent annually from 2017 and increase volume of domestic tourism.

According to him, it is also to promote and encourage patronage of local agricultural, creative industry and manufactured products by operators in the industry and strengthen backward and forward linkages and conserve foreign exchange.

“Promote national calendar of festivals and events in short term and develop value proposition around major clusters, launch awareness campaign to promote tourism and ease visa requirement to increase tourist arrivals.

“Improve security to encourage domestic and international mobility and review tourism legislation and eliminate overlapping functions among regulating agencies,’’ he said.

According to him, tourism’s contribution to 2016 GDP in Nigeria was less than half the world average but significantly higher than the Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) average, adding that the sector’s contribution to employment was relatively closer to the world average but significantly higher than the SSA average.

“Visitors export (spending within a country by international tourists for leisure and business travel) in Nigeria is low, close to the SSA average. However, travel and tourism investment in Nigeria in 2016 was higher than the world average, close to the values for South Africa and Egypt and much higher than the SSA average,’’ he said.

Akabueze who acknowledged that there were challenges that made it difficult for the sector to achieve the desired results, however, maintained that there was the need to finance tourism destinations, adding that investment had to be made.

“Airports, seaports, rail and roads need to be developed through financing; we also need to finance good quality hotel and security infrastructure. A key reform in the 60-Day National Action Plan implemented by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council is easing the entry and exits of people.’’

The former Lagos Commissioner reiterated that the tourism industry was a small segment of service sector but had the potential for job creation, expanding foreign exchange earnings and national output, stressing further that policies and strategies to support the sector as well as investment in physical, security infrastructure and skills developments were required.

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