Published On: Fri, May 29th, 2015

Buhari must prioritise tourism as alternative to oil and gas sector- Akpabio

 Mr. Ini Akpabio, the Group Managing Director, NANET Group, owners of NANET HOTEL AND SUITES, a leading hospitality firm in the country, in this interview with OREDOLA ADEOLA, urged the incoming administration to prioritise the tourism sector. He also highlighted the challenges facing the sector to include funding, security and infrastructure; he how
ever suggested that the government needed to drive the tourism industry through the setting up of Tourism Development Bank. Excerpts
What is responsible for the poor attention given to the tourism industry in Nigeria?
The down-ward trends witnessed in most sectors of the Nigeria economy was as a result of appointment offered to non-professionals. Most of the administrators appointed to head the various arms of the tourism ministry lacked the requisite knowledge required to drive the industry. Most of the appointments are based on party affiliations and friendship at the expense merit needed to grow the industry growth. If such maladministration is not corrected by Buhari, no sector of the economy will work because the right people must be appointed to man the right positions.
 
What is your advice for the incoming administration on the development of tourism?
President-elect, Gen. Muhammed Buhari must ensure that he appoint professionals to fill the various positions in the tourism ministry. As an alternative source of revenue generation, he needed to be committed to the growth of the sector by prioritizing the various activities that surrounds it. To start with, he needed to set up a presidential committee on tourism development which should be headed by him and must have other ministers as members; he must set up bank for tourism development to provide funds for investors. Priority must also be given to the development of infrastructures like electricity, roads and security this is because tourism cannot be developed in isolation. The insurgency in the North-west has affected the sector; it has got so bad that investors cannot reach out to their investments in some parts of the North.
Is there any state in the country where tourism plays a major role?
 
Yes there is, I am from Akwa Ibom state that is richer than Cross Rivers State in its share of Federal allocations, but I can tell you categorically that the economic impact of tourism is much felt in the later than the former. The average person on the street of Calabar is economically empowered than the other person in Uyo, this is because of the influx of tourists into the state. Although the Akwa Ibom state government has worked harder in creating enabling environment for sustainable growth through its road network and infrastructural development, it needed to work more in terms of tourism. Another state that had once pride itself as a tourism destination is Plateau State, but insurgency and social unrest has displaced it as a choice destination in Nigeria. It used to be foreigners’ favourite due to the attractiveness of its weather and the various destinations in the state, but the crisis in the state has taken its toll on the tourism industry. Some of these states with huge potential should be given major boast. This is why the incoming government must do something reviving this great potential.
What is your take on the abandoned historical sites in the country?
The incoming government must demonstrate commitment to revitalising some of the abandoned historical monuments, government-built hotels and tourism sites across the country. There are lots of abandoned government hotels, monuments and tourism sites that are not in good condition.
What step must the incoming government take to stimulate in the growth of the sector
The new administration must ensure that it diversify the economy through taking advantage of the opportunities inherent in the hospitality industry. This is the only sector that does not pose much hazard to the environment unlike the oil and gas sector. Hospitality sector is the third employer of labour after agric sector and civil service. It is the only sector that is capable of employing more than a million Nigerians annually, thereby, reducing employment challenges in the country.
The industry has the capacity to help increase the nation gross domestic earnings by 50 per cent while also helping to alleviate poverty.
What is the guarantee that the government can properly manage tourists in the face of insurgency in some parts of the country?
 Security is a very important factor needed to drive tourism but it appears that we have over flogged it in this part of the world. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to manage the crisis in such a manner that would encourage Foreign Direct investment- FDI. We need to know that Nigeria is not as bad as it is being misconstrued; the crisis is concentrated in just few states compared with other parts of the country. We need to initiate creative ways of selling destinations that are not affected by the crisis to the international community. Take for instance, South Africa, tourists are always warned not to go to some part of that country. Even in Chicago, tourists are cautioned not to visits some places because of security concerns. Nigerians must learn to manage its crisis in such a manner as to project a positive image of the country.
What then must the incoming government do to partner with the stakeholders in the sector?
Apart from making Nigeria a friendly environment for all to live, unlocking challenges of infrastructure and instituting better regulations, stakeholders in the tourism sectors need a Bank of Tourism, that would facilitate the issuance of soft loans to investor. The idea is to encourage stimulate more investment in the sector. Such funds would also help to build more hospitality and tourism schools across the country to train more professionals for the industry. If agriculture is the first employer of labour in the country, then tourism is the next greatest employer of labour. If there is intervention fund for agricultural development, what is stopping government from replicating similar things for tourism sector? If you look at all the major cities in Nigeria, you will discover that out of every five buildings in country, one of the buildings will be offering services that are associated with the sector.  If you notice, Adetokunbo Ademola through Aminu Kano Street in Abuja, restaurants and hospitality centres are built along all these streets. In trip round all the major cities across the country, you will definitely find a night club, restaurants and hotels in strategic locations.
Don’t you think offering money as incentive to the operators would encourage corruption?
We are not asking the government to give us money, our demand is for them to create long-term funds for investment, it could stretch for fifteen years. Nollywood and textile and industry have been supported by the government through intervention funds of this magnitude. Tourism is an alternative source of revenue against the backdrop of the fallen global oil price. In Kenya, the tourism sector is the second largest foreign exchange earner. This can also be replicated in Nigeria if the government gives the sector all the supports it required. There are so many destinations in the country, that must be developed and it takes Public Private Partnership to get all of these destinations to function all full capacity.

© 2015, Hallmarknews. All rights reserved. Reference and link to this site is required if you wish to reuse any article.

Reactions from Facebook

comments and opinions

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Most Shared

Recent posts

  • For the records: President Buhari’s address at the 73rd UN General Assembly (Full speech)

    STATEMENT DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 73RD SESSION OF UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN NEW YORK, 25TH SEPTEMBER, 2018. Madam President, Fellow Heads of State and Government, Mr. Secretary-General, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of the Government and people of […]

  • ELAN’s National Lease Conference Focuses on Stimulating Valuable Investments for Sustainable Growth

    In furtherance of its objective of promoting the business of leasing in Nigeria, Equipment Leasing Association of Nigeria (ELAN) has concluded plans to organise the 16th Annual National Lease Conference with focus on the economy. The conference is the highest gathering of stakeholders in the leasing industry and a platform for brainstorming on issues pertinent […]

  •  KIAKIAFX partners TURTLEWAX BDC on FX transfers

    KiaKiaFX, an indigenous Fintech company has signed a technical services agreement with Turtlewax BDC to promote the sale of retail Foreign Exchange (FX) where customers can exchange FX from the comfort of their homes offices via desktop, tablet or mobile device. Speaking in Lagos, the Managing Director, KiaKia FX, Abisoye Coker, said the digital platform […]

  • RMB seeks improved awareness on financial inclusion

    The Chief Operating Officer of Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria (RMB), Mr. Funso Odukoya, has called for increased awareness on issues around financial inclusion in the country. Odukoya spoke during a panel session at the 2018 Annual National Conference of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN), with the theme: “Banks, Fintechs and Nigeria’s Financial Inclusion […]

  • NDIC MD Emerges IADI Africa Regional Committee Chair

    The Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Umaru Ibrahim, has been elected the new Chairperson of the Africa Regional Committee (ARC) of the International Association of Deposit Insurers (IADI). Ibrahim was elected during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the IADI-ARC, which was a prelude to the IADI Technical Assistance Workshop being […]

  • Full Communique of MPC Meeting

    CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA COMMUNIQUÉ NO 120 OF THE MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE MEETING OF MONDAY 24th AND TUESDAY 25th SEPTEMBER, 2018 Background The Monetary Policy Committee (CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA COMMUNIQUÉ NO 120 OF THE MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE MEETING OF MONDAY 24th AND TUESDAY 25th SEPTEMBER, 2018 Background The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) met on […]

  • MPC retains interest rate at 14% for 13th consecutive times

    The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday for the retained the Monetary Policy Rate unchanged at 14 per cent for the 13th time. The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, announced the decision of the committee at the end of a two-day meeting held at the apex bank’s headquarters in […]

  • 2018 budget: FG to sell 10 state-owned companies to raise funds

    The Federal Government may put up 10 state-owned companies for sale in the fourth quarter of 2018 to raise N289 billion for the funding of the 2018 budget, Joe Anichebe, a director at the Bureau of Public Entreprises (BPE), has disclosed. Anichebe said preparations are in the final stages for the sales of the companies, […]

  • FG to sell 10 public assets in Q4 2018

    The Federal Government has concluded plans to sell 10 government-owned companies for sale to selected investors and the public in the fourth quarter to raise N289 billion toward funding the 2018 budget,Bureau of Public Entreprises (BPE) has disclosed. According to Bloomberg report, preparations are in the final stages to begin the sale of the companies […]

  • Modric defeats Ronaldo, Salah to emerge FIFA’s Footballer of the Year 2018

    Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric has been named the Best Men’s Player at The Best FIFA Football Awards on Monday evening, fighting off competition from fellow nominees Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah. The award caps off an incredible year for Modric, who won his fourth Champions League title with Real Madrid in May, […]

  • Nigerian bond market witnesses low demand

    A slowdown in client demand characterizes the bond market on Monday, unlike sentiments witnessed for the most part of last week. This is on the back of expected renewed supply at the bond auction on Wednesday, where the Debt Management Office (DMO) would raise a total of N90billion from the 2023, 2025 and 2028 maturities. […]

  • Oil price climbs to four-year high as Saudi, Russia turn Trump down

    Oil prices have hit a four-year high of over $81 a barrel after Saudi Arabia and Russia rejected calls by Donald Trump to increase production. Brent crude hit its highest level since November 2014 at $81.16 a barrel, up 3 per cent on the day. Saudi Arabia led the c oil cartel, while Russia is […]

  • Buhari releases N22bn to Nigerian Airways retirees

    The Federal Government has released N22.68 billion to settle part of the retirement benefits of former workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways. The government has also approved the release of N20 billion to revitalise public universities in line with demands of the Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU). Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure […]

  • MPC set for another policy freeze

    By FELIX OLOYEDE Despite the outcry for lower domestic interest rates, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is expected to leave the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent as it responds to inflation jitters ahead of the 2019 general elections, say economists. The MPC meeting schedule to hold today, Monday 24th 2018 and Tuesday […]

  • Ambode fights for his political life

    By OBINNA EZUGWU It is no longer news; the political love affair in Lagos state is in trouble. For the first time since 1999, a sitting governor is facing a real challenge from his own party for the ticket. The indignity can only be imagined and its implications continue to reverberate across the state and […]

  • Adeosun: Betrayed by a dysfunctional system (Editorial)

    A fortnight ago, former Finance Minister Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, resigned her position following the report of an investigative panel into allegations of NYSC certificate forgery against her. The allegation had been earlier made by an online newspaper, Premium Times, and the nation was agog with speculations about it. Her resignation has been interpreted by most […]