As Nigerians marked World Tourism Day, the Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr Folarin Coker, has called on tourism stakeholders to pause, reflect and rethink tourism to enhance a better future and environment in Nigeria.
Coker, represented by a senior official of NTDC, Mr Olufemi Macaulay, made the call on Tuesday at the commemoration of World Tourism Day by National Museum of Unity, Ibadan and National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA).
He stressed the need for tourism stakeholders to be prepared for the opportunities and challenges, which would require collaboration and a sense of interconnectedness among one another.
Coker also called for review of the regulations guiding the sector’s operations and operators in order to standardise service delivery by both public and private sector partners and deploy a strategic stakeholder approach to the development of sustainable tourism practice.
“There is also the need for effective participation by community leaders as agents of change in tourism transformation as well as deployment of technology and digital techniques for easy and safe travel.
“The potentials of tourism are enormous and we all have shared responsibilities to make sure it is fully realised,” he said.
The NTDC director-general urged tourism entrepreneurs to embrace technology to gain more mileage and penetration, and acquire adequate knowledge in the proficient use of digital platforms to promote and market existing tourist sites and attractions.
“With over 147 million active internet subscriptions and a tele-density of almost 97 per cent, we have a ready-made and vast domestic market for tourism development locally.
“Let’s, therefore, celebrate and form the future of tourism that is sustainable, stronger, empowering, resilient and inclusive. The future of tourism starts today,” he said.
The Vice-President of NANTA, Western zone, Mr Babatunde Adesokan, urged governments at all levels to build good accessible road network around every tourist destination in the country.
He underscored the need for the country to work on ensuring its failing security network as a way of rethinking tourism in this modern day.
Adesokan sought government’s support, particularly in the area of reviewing multiple taxation, stressing that this was affecting the operations of his members.
“The support of our business depends on how much breathing space we get from our regulatory agencies in terms of taxes.
“We are always ready to sell our local destinations anytime, any day if the governments create enabling environment for us to thrive,” he said.
Also speaking, the Curator, National Museum of Unity, Ibadan, Mrs Oriyomi Otuka, expressed the museum’s readiness to fraternise with stakeholders to engage new frontiers of operations toward content development and acceptable international standard for tourism sustainability.
According to her, this year’s theme: “Rethinking Tourism,” is apt in Nigeria, considering the aftermath of the COVID-19 challenges and the strive for economic sustainability.
Otuka said that the occasion offered opportunities for stakeholders to rediscover, stimulate and proffer solutions to modern day tourism potentials capable of generating employments.
“We invite you to our newly-inaugurated exhibition gallery, tagged: ‘Our Cultural Heritage in Retrospect’, where a peep into a number of artifacts launches us into rethinking our tourism so that tourism per one can bring tourism per thousand,” she said.
Highlights of the event included cultural and sport performances.