The Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN) has urged government at all levels to work towards making Nigeria among the world top tourism destinations by the year 2020.
The association made the call in a communiqué signed by its National President, Mr Badaki Aliyu, on Monday and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja at the end of a two-day National conference.
NAN reports that HATMAN had its 11th National conference and Annual General Meeting recently with the theme, “Sustainable Development practices: It’s implication for Hospitality and Tourism Industry in Nigeria.’’
It noted that the Nigeria’s tourism landscape was extremely rich and beautiful for global hospitality and tourist attraction, making it a leading tourism paradise in Africa.
The communiqué advised governments to diversify and make hospitality and tourism an alternative to oil and make Nigeria a top-20 destination in the year 2020.
According to the communiqué, Nigeria has about 101 tourist attractions of international repute, spreading across the six geo-political zones, with different tourist assets.
In this cluster lie the most beautiful natural, cultural, historical and man-made tourist attractions in Africa, it noted.
It explains that despite its abundant tourism resources, Nigeria was not listed among the major destinations in Africa.
It advised government at all levels to speedily explore the potential that abounds in the tourism and hospitality sector as an alternative source of income to the dwindling oil revenue.
It explained that the tourism and hospitality industry has been identified as an effective way to revitalise the economy of any nation.
Many African countries rely on tourism as a major sector of their economy, and Nigeria has a lot to offer visitors from outstanding waterfalls to unique wildlife and the ruins of ancient civilisations, the communique noted.
It stated that the association has identified low level of awareness and inadequate stakeholder’s participation, poor funding and governance as some significant challenges facing the development of the sector.
The communiqué also noted insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, poverty and general negative perception on tourism and hospitality services as major threats to tourism development in Nigeria.
The association recommended that to complement resources in tourism, a high powered commission should be set up to identify all tourism potential and attractions in the country.
It advised governments to encourage public- private partnership entrepreneurs who lack the capital and political and political capacity.
NAN reports that Nigeria is currently standing at 131 in world tourism destination ranking, with Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and Algeria respectively leading in Africa.