The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has called on governments in Nigeria at federal and state levels to diversify the nation’s economy by stimulating the development of tourism clusters and tourist destinations across the country.
The president of FTAN, Alhaji Saleh Rabo made the call in Uyo, where he represented the private sector at the World Tourism Day celebration organised by Akwa Ibom State.
Alhaji Rabo said tourism development is a guaranteed way of creating employment in Nigeria, especially in tourist host communities in rural areas adding that globally, the tourism industry is the highest employer of labour, both skilled and unskilled; insisting that the value chain of the tourism economy is robust and sustainable. He urged governments to create enabling environment for tourism industry practitioners to ease their business and to incentivise investments in the sector. He admonished the state governments to give tourism business operators in their domain tax holidays, and appealed that the federal government grant waiver on import duties for operators. He argued that presently 85% hotels and tourist resorts in Nigeria are owned by FTAN members, but they are being bedevilled with taxes and levies by federal government agencies, while states drive for IGR and even local government officials brings additional pressure. Alhaji Rabo argued that despite the huge cost of operations, FTAN members currently employ thousands of Nigerians in hotels, tourist resorts, travel agencies, transport sector, cultural centres, and many tourism-related operations.
September 27 every year is marked as World Tourism Day by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and all other national tourism orgnizations in the world.
The theme of this year’s WTDay is “Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all”. Alhaji Rabo opined that a thriving domestic tourism sector in Nigeria can create thousands of jobs on an annual basis. He cited records of the World Tourism Organisation which states 1 out of 10 workers in the world are directly employed in the tourism industry. He insisted that since most of Nigeria’s tourist attractions are in the hinterlands, the industry if well supported by government policies, can significantly alleviate poverty in the host communities, employ more women and youths, support small and medium scale enterprises, and many more economic multiplier effects.