Mrs. Nneka Moses, Managing Director, Goge Africa, a culture and tourism promoter, has said that the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world is a blessing in disguise for domestic tourism operators in Nigeria and beyond.
Moses disclosed this during a boat tour on the waterways in Lagos, on Monday, to mark the 2021 World Tourism Day.
The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day is “Tourism for inclusive growth”.
World Tourism Day is usually celebrated globally on September 27.
According to Moses, COVID-19 pandemic has given tourism practitioners the opportunity to look inward and package, promote and sell their domestic tourism potentials in their immediate environment, the country and beyond.
“Nigeria and Africa as a whole are blessed with enormous tourism and cultural potentials that can be used to attract visitors and international tourists.
“But due to Africa’s negligence, they don’t concentrate on their inbound tourism rather they promote and patronise more of outbound tourism which is not encouraging.
“We are supposed to sell our heritage sites and culture/tourism potentials to the outside world, and not prioritising foreign cultures and their tourism over Africa’s tourism assets,” she said.
Moses said that the COVID-19 pandemic gave Nigerians restriction not to travel outside the country, thereby, forcing them to look inwards for relaxation points for holidays.
She added that tour operators and tourism practitioners have looked inward and packaged befitting tour and safe holiday spots for local tourists’ vacation.
“The travel restriction has helped to grow domestic tourism. It has also helped tourism practitioners to appreciate and promote their country’s tourism assets to local travelers and tourists.
“This is one beautiful thing the COVID-19 pandemic brought into Nigeria, aside from claiming lives,” she said.
Moses said it was necessary to celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day because of the relative impact it has brought to all facets of the economy during the era of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tourism is all encompassing. It relates with other sectors of the economy such as aquatic, agro, medical, education and religious tourism.
“The industry has helped several sectors to survive and it has also created lots of job opportunities both online and offline,” she said.
She therefore urged all tiers of government to support the growth and development of tourism industry in Nigeria.
Mr Solomon Uwakwe, Chairman, Pa Solo Worldwide Travels and Tourism Ltd., said that the significance of World Tourism Day is to celebrate the importance of the industry to the growth of the economy.
“There is no doubt that the tourism sector has, in no small measure, contributed to the development of the country’s economic growth,” he said.
He said that countries such as United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Gambia, Kenya, and the United Kingdom survived and depended solely on tourism.
He said if Nigeria could beef up security for local and international tourists, domestic tourism will thrive.
Also, Mr Solomon Emenogu, Managing Director, Kum chop Afrikana Ltd., said that local cuisine is part of a selling point for tourists.
He said that tourism includes the kind of food such country consumes, their lifestyle, culture, traditions and religion.
“This are the beauty of tourism, travelling from one place to another to experience another country’s way of life, culture, local cuisine and traditions and also to enjoy their tourism assets,” he said.
He described tourism as life and a sustainable industry that could help sustain the economy of a country.
Mrs Lilian Amah-Aluko, an actress and producer, said that tourism has helped in no small measure to boost the content of entertainment and movie industry.
She said that the tourism sector is a viable industry that runs all-inclusive growth for other sectors of the economy to survive. (NAN)