The National Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) has advised the agencies established by the Federal Government to drive the growth and development of the tourism sector to live up to their mandates.
Mr Nkereuwem Onung, the President of the association said this at the celebration of World Tourism Day in Lagos on Wednesday.
Onung said that the agencies include the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
Our reporter reports that this year’s theme is: “Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development.’’ He said that if they did, the sector would be competing favourably with its foreign counterparts.
“If the tourism sector is well exploited, it can generate billions of naira to the economy.
“The sector is full of enormous potential that can be used for national development.
“The sector will also be attracting millions of local and international tourists to West Africa, boost its revenues and help in national development,” he said.
Onung said that the day was worth celebrating as the tourism sector had contributed immensely to development of many countries’ economic developments.
According to him, some African countries such as; South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Kenya have developed their economy through tourism sector.
“South, East and Central Africa countries are doing very well in terms of attracting Europeans and Americans tourists to Africa.
“They have contributed 60 per cent to tourism development in Africa c while West Africa contributed less than 10 per cent.
“This is not encouraging. Nigeria, Ghana and other West African countries need to gear up and repackage their tourism industries to be able to attract international tourists,’’he said.
He said that Nigeria should pursue its diversification policy by developing its tourism industry and reducing reliance on the oil sector.
Onung also appealed to the Federal Government to separate the Ministry of Tourism from that of Information so that it could coordinate tourism development effectively.