Friday, September 4, 2009
TOURISM DEVELOPMENT: THE VITAL ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
Listen to the following statistics regarding tourism. According to World Tourism Organization (WTO) forecast, international tourist arrival will climb from the present 625 million a year to over 1.6 billion by the year 2020, now does that ring a bell, vision 202020? These tourists are expected to spend over 2 trillion US dollars, making tourism the world’s leading industry.
Today tourism is important to the economy of over 125 countries, from Europe to the Americas and of course Africa. Tourism can alleviate poverty through the creation of small and medium size tourism ventures. As it creates new jobs it simultaneously raises environmental, cultural as well as social awareness. Now listen to this also, tourism could most effectively reduce unemployment and lift the standard of living in developing homes, Nigeria inclusive.
How do we as a nation benefit from the above statistics about tourism business? What can the government at all levels do to ensure that Nigeria takes her rightful place in tourism business?
Government at all levels could do a lot to ensure that we reap bountifully from this windfall from tourism. Government at all levels must necessarily create the enabling environment for tourism industry to thrive. Government must put sound policy framework in place, a policy that will encourage an unprecedented growth of the tourism industry in Nigeria. This means that government need to double its; effort inj the provision of critical infrastructures (power, road networks, coastal/waterways, airports/airfields).
Government at all levels should embark on massive awareness campaign about the numerous benefits/opportunities in the tourism industry. The hordes of security agencies on every stretch flagging down vehicles are inimical to the growth of tourism. Therefore a re-orientation of our security agencies is urgent. The roads are to facilitate tourism and not to serve as revenue points. Tourism business and the movement of persons and goods could be crippled by the overbearing security presence on the roads.
Government at all levels should empower or encourage indigenous investors through incentives such as tax breaks to enable them invest in tourism by embarking on massive construction of resorts, hotels, parks and other infrastructures critical to the development of tourism. This action on the part of government will minimize profit repatriation by foreign investors as is being witnessed in the case of the telecom and oil and gas industries. Government at all levels should provide security to lives and property and reduce the feeling of insecurity. Government should enact necessary legislations to give teeth to the growth of the industry and empower the supervisory agency to be more efficient.