Tourism experts have said the industry has the capacity to employ more than 20 million young Nigerians if properly harnessed.
They described the 1.6 percent employment rate the sector currently enjoys as grossly inadequate considering Nigeria’s potentials.
The national president of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Alexander Nwuba, said this in Calabar, Wednesday, during a National Tourism Transportation Summit, organised by the Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN).
“When we talk of tourism, we are talking of jobs and opportunities. For instance, Dubai, which is naturally a desert, has created space for millions of youth to have good employment. If you look at other countries and models, you hear of nothing less than 20 percent of the population being employed in the tourism sector.
“The beauty of it is that youth can be employed in tourism as well as adults. Farming is tourism, storytelling, agriculture are all part of tourism. We are talking here about twenty to thirty million jobs that we can create under tourism in Nigeria because the country has the potential to do well.
“Tourism is not something esoteric, it is not only about mountains, hills, forests and monkeys, it also involves taking our cultures, arts, artifacts and selling them to people who have not experienced them,” he stated.
In his remarks, the ITPN national president and chairman, Inter-Ministerial Committee, National Tourism Transportation Summit and Expo, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo, said tourism could be taken to another height if there is synergy between the tourism industry and other relevant sectors, like transportation.
He said, “The connectivity brought by road, rail, air and maritime transport is at the heart of tourism development, providing substantial economic benefits for all those involved in the tourism value chain. Tourism and transportation can play vital roles in creating employment opportunities both directly and indirectly through their linkages to local economic activities.
“We are trying to bridge the gap between tourism and transportation. For too long, those in the tourism sector had been operating all alone, likewise those in other relevant sectors like the transportation. For the system to be properly harnessed, those in the rail, maritime and aviation industries should work together with the tourism sector.
“The challenge that the tourism sector has in Nigeria is connectivity. We are talking about movement of people and that is why there should be synergy among various relevant sectors. Besides creating jobs, I have it on record that over 40 percent of agric produce is consumed by the tourism sector. It is the single largest consumer of the agric produce, which is why attention should be given to it.”