For Nigeria to tap extensively from huge tourism potentials across states, there is a need to explore tourism sites within the rural communities, Daily Times gathered.
This was the observation made by Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Project Manager, Adedamola Ogusesan, who described tourism as catalyst in developing rural economy, while noting that most tourism sites are in rural areas.
Ogusesan pointed out that tourism could be a foreign exchange spinner for the nation if well harnessed, stressing that tourism potentials are rated as high as 90% in Nigeria.
According to Ogusesan, Nigeria is one of the best countries in the world where tourism could help in building the capacity of rural areas.
For instance, he noted that there are two suspended lakes in the world and one is in Nigeria and that is substantial enough.
He said “I will also like you think about Igboora which is tagged as capital of twin in the world. And in terms of potential, tourism potential of Nigeria is huge and it is a major exchange foreign earner, if well harnessed. In terms of where we are I would say we are practically just scratching the surface. Tourism for us in this part of the world are big hotels and that does not necessarily translate into how we cater for this and it’s just one aspect of tourism.
“Accommodation, good airports are things we need to put in place. And if I’m going to rank that and I will rank us 30%, as we have not come to standard yet. We cannot compare our airports, our visa processing processes with others and those are things that rank us as tourism destination; although the government has liberated the visa policy for some country where we have point of entry. But in terms of infrastructure and security in rural areas, much needs to be done”, he said.
On level of tourism, he said that Nigeria is not there yet, adding that tourism would help to reduce rural and urban drift, improve economic activities in rural areas and provides more security and protection of these resources.
“There is a lot that we can look out for in terms of how tourism can boost rural economy. it is a game changer for government. It is very important sector of the economy that can actually help in transforming rural communities and make them more sustainable and reduce social vices in these areas.
“We have been talking about diversification of the economy. Tourism is one of the key areas where we can diversify into and have foreign exchange. So it is not just talking tourism as regards to urban areas as it also affects rural businesses”.
Noting that tourism is a way to go, Ogusesan advised, “It is important for the stakeholders in the tourism industry to educate the people on the need to celebrate the world tourism day. It tells us about what is the essence of tourism, its contribution to socio-economic activities, its contribution to the cultural heritage, its contribution to educating young people about what we are, who we are and what we need to do in order to preserve our cultural heritage.