By Bianca Iboma
The Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, (NTDC) Folorunsho Folarin- Coker has said that if Nigerians want the tourism industry to grow meaningfully, it should be approached as a business. He made the declaration during a one-day “Hospitality and Tourism” conference organised by Jumia travels in Lagos, while appealing to stakeholders to change their perception of tourism and consider it as veritable tool to development, by seeing through the lens of business, other than just art and culture.
“It is true that tourism gobbles the products of culture that showcases the rich art heritage. It should be considered as a business that has a bargaining power to generate revenue. I’m stating this clearly that tourism is a business, not just art, nor culture, although we make use of the natural features of art and culture for tourism, despite the general misunderstanding about tourism especially in government where people believe it is a culture that throws up uniqueness.” He said tourism needs to be galvanised that is why he has put some strategic operations in place that would improve the service of tourism in the country.
Coker who was the guest speaker at the occasion said that he created the Tour Nigeria brand instead of people to spend our Naira in dollar they can spend the Naira in Nigeria and drive domestic consumption of our tourism asset and products because the Naira keeps revolving among us. He however, said that if new markets are created, tourism market would add to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and in turn create employment,and increase spending in the economy.
Folarin who presented a paper on “Managing the potentials of Tourism and Hospitality in Nigeria.The role of government: A case study of tour Nigeria Initiative, said Nigerians are vibrant, friendly people and have a lot of energy and creativity in expressing the diverse cultural heritage by promoting our natural and cultural tourism assets, destinations and people.
He argued that using the new media as a marketing tool to drive tourist activities within Nigeria can bring sustainable development to the sector adding, the media has a social responsibility that enhances tourism. He said that the focus of the NTDC’ is on domestic tourism.”Honestly I am looking at the millions of dollar-earning foreigners to troupe into Nigeria and spend the kind of cash they spend in Rio or Ibiza. The only way that International tourism market can grow is if there is a strong domestic market. He pointed out that the country’s unique selling point is music, food and films, amazingly, Nollywood is number two in the world, at least by numbers. As for Nigeria fashion why can’t Nigerians influence and promote our fashion too he asked.
“There are several medium of cultural expression of the Nigerian film, our Nigerian music, and Nigerian art. He cited the example of the one Lagos Fiesta he introduced as Commissioner for Tourism in Lagos State, that it can be adopted and replicated in different locations across the country, insisting,we can also have a January to December tourism calendar.
People need information about what is happening in the various parts of Nigeria, we are planning to create a tourism calendar of events that would enable tourism industry create packages.
Also, there was a discussion segment where two panels discussed, analysed and shed more light on tactical issues relating to tourism industry in an evolving global economy.
The first panel focused on tourism and opened up a discussion on “Using New Media to Merchandise Major Nigerian Sites and Destinations where the participants are tourist entrepreneurs: Chiamaka Obuekwe, Funmi Oyatogun, and Mrs. Lamido while the second panel dealt with hospitality and made up of the Managing Director of Jumia Travel, Omolara Adagunodo, Paul Okojie of Golden Tulip, Jeff Fischer of Welcome Center, with Damilola Koya of Eko Hotel and Suites moderating.