By Jonathan Ugbal
Former Cross River Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke has said that for the Nigerian tourism sector to grow, Nigerians must be involved.
Imoke stated this while speaking at the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) Annual General Meeting and Conference held in Lagos where he used the ‘Destination Cross River’ brand as a case study to dissect the problems plaguing the sector reports THISDAY Newspapers.
He lamented the system of governance; federalism which he said was not so ideal and has impeded the growth of the sector which is unregulated.
“Tourism in Nigeria is absolutely unregulated… if we must be honest, we are not a tourism country,” Imoke said.
He continued; “There must be inter-agency collaboration for the industry to gain the much needed traction; essentially, policies and laws must be backed by the required implementation.”
The presentation which lasted about 45 minutes also saw Imoke blame the inability of the Cross Rivers tourism products, the Obudu Ranch Resort, Tinapa free trade zone, Obudu mountain race among others to thrive on the system of administration in the country.
In a similar vein, the Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Folorunsho Coker posited that tourism needs to be packaged in a way the common Nigerian can comprehend and called on the citizenry to explore the option of domestic tourism which he said is the cheapest option available.
“We need to package tourism in a simple manner that the average Nigerian can understand. If we don’t package it, individuals cannot take advantage of it. We understand the product better; we are the most critical audience and will demand better value for our money,” Coker said.
“At N400 to $1, we are better of spending our naira here as that will make the holiday cheaper and affordable. Accommodation, transport, food and drinks will be cheaper to spending dollars outside. That aside, we are also boosting our economy and strengthening our currency by reducing the pressure on it,” he added.
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