Nigeria can make over 4 billion US dollars annually from tourism once the different tourism sites across the nation are properly harnessed, Director General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo, has said.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Mbanefo said vast tourism potentials are being explored in Kano, Enugu, Lagos and Cross River states insisting that these states stand out.
She said if properly harnessed, tourism could create more jobs for Nigerians and even surpassed job opportunities offered by the mineral resources subsector.
“If we encourage Nigerians to practise local tourism, then jobs will be created because tourism sites are essentially at the local communities” stressing that the nation could make huge fortunes from the tourism.
Mbanefo however noted that the private sector has the key to help Nigeria maximise its tourism potentials noting “they will be the driving force for Nigeria to realise its real tourism potentials”.
“We need the private sector to be involved in branding tourism sites that are not developed. If we improve the value, access and infrastructures that exist, with power supply, it will make the hotels cheaper because everybody is running on a generator.”
“Our hotels are too expensive. If we improve on power, infrastructure and access roads to these tourism sites, it will improve our economy. It’s not only tourism sites we are selling.”
She described the forth coming coronation of the Oba of Benin is going as another viable platform for the nation to unleash its tourism potentials noting tourism is more important right now than minerals resources.
Mbanefo whose agency is saddled with the responsibilities of coordinating activities in the nation’s tourism sector said all the nation needed was to promote it tourism potentials so that people outside could appreciate what the country has.
“Now that the Dollar is so high and the prices of crude oil have gone down, people should come down to earth and support the President in the infrastructure adjustment he is doing.”