Some tourism experts encouraged Nigerians to tap into the huge tourism potential and tourist attractions in the country.
They revealed this in an interview in Abuja. They stated that Nigeria was endowed with various natural tourism potentials.
A tourism consultant, Mallam Abdullahi Gambo used Kenya as a case study whose exceptionally buoyant economy is generated from tourism resources. This is a country without oil or any notable mineral resource.
Gambo said: “Nigeria can borrow a leaf from Kenya by rediscovering itself in the dynamics of its tourism potential.
“Aside from oiling the country’s socioeconomic wheels of progress, a conscious, sustained and multi-dimensional coordination and promotion of the country’s tourism potentials will greatly boost revenue generation in the country. All over the world, tourism is now receiving a massive boost.”
He added that; “Just as there are hundreds of tribes in Nigeria, so are their cultural and traditional diversities which, in themselves, are tourist attractions. Each of these peculiarities can be packaged to attract tourists with the attendant boost to the local economies.
“You will be surprised that many indigenes of the rural tourism sites have never visited the sites right under their noses; so, how can they tell outsiders what potentials they have in their individual areas?
“Some parents even warn their children to steer clear of the sites, saying it is dangerous to visit them and even the elites among them still prefer international tourism. The elites travel abroad just to show off; I am telling them now to bring that money back to our communities so that we can develop what is obtainable abroad,” Gambo added.
In addition to Gambo’s observation, Mr Emeka Attamah a tourism expert is of the opinion that the industry would only grow when Nigerians begin to appreciate and patronise tourist sites in their communities.
“If we appreciate and patronise our rural tourist sites and also talk about them, we will be, unwittingly, advertising them to the outside world. We will be able to boost the industry and also show the world that we have places worth visiting.
Attamah said: “we should embark on intensive and extensive promotion of our tourism selling points as a means of encouraging, not only the international community, but our own people, to explore our tourist attractions.
“Government, especially the local governments, should invest in tourism in order to attract visitors as well as create jobs in the industry. It is necessary for the private sector to be involved in the growth and development of rural tourism in the country.
Attamah reiterated; “the local governments should get involved by doing what they can, at their own levels, to develop the potentials that exist within their own domains. I am certain that the hospitality sector would be the better for it.”