An investor in the tourism industry, Mr Yomi Fadugba, says the Nigerian government has yet to show enough commitment to diversification from oil to other sectors of the economy.
Fadugba, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MOYDAK Construction Ltd., Lagos, made the assertion on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on how the tourism sector has fared.
Fadugba, a hospitality business investor, told NAN that making tourism an investment destination was more than political speeches but rather a money spinner waiting to be tapped.
He ascribed the low income from the tourism sector to government’s insincerity in funding it adequately.
“Tourism is a segment of the economy with huge potential to generate enough foreign earnings for the country. Everybody knows that, government inclusive but it fails to act accordingly.
“We talk of Dubai tourism potential only when we have lectures and seminars but when it comes to practical, we shy away. Government must wake up because African countries are leaving us behind.
“When this government came to power, they promised to diversify at least into tourism, but when the budget was prepared, nothing suggests what they had earlier promised.
“It is true that tourism contributed 4.8 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016, it can be improved upon with right investment if government gets its acts together,’’ he said.
Fadugba said that the 2017 budget should have reflected what the government promised on the improved funding to tourism.
“For the purpose of comparison, United Arab Emirate (UAE), the toast of our politicians invested 7.46 billion dollars in the UAE’s travel and tourism sector in 2015, a significant 7.3 per cent of its total investment.
“The return on investment was massive as they reap 14.81 billion dollars in the year 2016 with a projection of eight per cent investment in the year 2023.
“For Nigeria, we only appropriate a paltry N1.3 billion for the whole tourism sector under the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), in the present budget. This includes the overhead cost and others.
“The 2017 appropriation is grossly inadequate if we are serious with diversification form oil to tourism. We can’t expect to reap where we did not sow,’’ he told NAN.
Fadugba said that Nigeria needed world class airports and favourable Foreign Exchange (Forex) regime to mitigate the challenges hospitality and tourism industry were facing.
“Having world class airports will ease travelling into the country. If what the investors meet on entry to the country is nothing to write about, do we expect them to come back?
“The airport in Abuja and Lagos which we pride in as world class cannot be compared with local airports in South Africa; even those two are grossly inadequate.
“Nigeria with a population of about 170 million needs airports that can take 30,000 people at most, but do we have that? Airports sell us more and more importantly a National Carrier,’’ he told NAN.
“I honestly don’t know what the government is talking about in developing tourism when there are no standard airports in the eastern part of the country to open up the area.
“Go to the east, no good roads, no rail and no international standard airport; so, how do you want to transport the tourists to that place? It can’t work that way, Nigeria should be connected with effective transportation.
“Another issue is about the Forex, I have yet to see a country in any part of the world that shut its Forex window to tourism but Nigeria did that in 2016, it’s unfortunate.’’