By Christiana Ekpa
The Senator Representing Edo South Senatorial District, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, has said that the passage of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Bills (NIHOTOUR) are the most plausible steps for Nigeria Economy.
Peoples Daily reports that, the bills when assent to will reposition the tourism industry to benefit Nigeria economically as well as encourage partnership with Private investors.
The bills will also enhance best practices of responsible tourism principles and help to promote the tourism opportunities abundant in the country as well as repealing tourism development in Nigeria.
Speaking to newsmen after the passage of the two bills, sponsored by him, at the weekend, Urhoghide said the bills are pass mark for the country economy.
According to him, “The passage of the Bills are pass mark for this country not just for me. The whole ideal was to make law for good governance of our country.
“One thing that seek my attention during the 2015, 2016 budget defence was for the fact that, Government was spending so much money on settling an overhead in culture and tourism agencies.
“I find out that, government was spending close to N50 billion every year for payment of staff and overhead which they use for the running of these agencies and each of this agencies get not less than N1.2 billion and some N3.5 billion a year for personnel cost but their IGR is zero.
“I said to myself that we cannot continue this way. Mind you the world today is going in the direction of tourism, more so in Nigeria where we are looking at diversification, it can not just be a leave, it must be in our action, if want to diversify, we must look in the direction of this Sector.
He said “Every country today that is depending on itself is investing in some other areas. Yes we could have said Agriculture but the one that is most plausible for us and our economy now is tourism but because Nigeria does not have interest or rich knowledge about what we have in tourism sector, it suffered set backs
“The country with over 400 and 500 ethnicities, it tells you the diversity’s that we have and with population of over 180 million people, I felt too that what government was doing was wrong and the only way to fine out was to see the objective through which the agencies were established. You see National Theater, Gallery of Art, Tourism Development Cooperation, National Art and Culture, National Museum and so many of them but there are no law establishing or backing them up”
He said tourism all over the world is driven by service and not just the building of hotels and structure “As a layman, the tourism sector is driven by service, if the service is right we can achieve the purpose in tourism sector.
“I was able to connect all agencies that are involved in training both within and out the country and I have what is going on in other countries that are hundred percent depending on tourism and of course If you look at the literature too, last year 2016, tourism contributed 10.6 percent to world GDP and if look at it, that is 7.66 trillion dollar, we can’t get that from oil and we didn’t go beyond 1.8, 1.9 percent that same year.
Tourism is going to do three things, one you earn revenue directly, two it provide employment and three, we have what we call tourism sector whoever come to your country, as they are going they buy things, export good and anything they export from this country, we also get money from it.
“There is a need for us to look inward and I look at it, the first thing is training that is why I took up National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTUR). The institute is going to training personnel and I even find out that, the institute was established in 1998 between Nigeria government, UNDP and others”. He added.