By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate has summoned the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to appear before its Committee on Information and Culture to explain what he is doing reposition the culture and tourism sector to become a major foreign exchange earner.
It further passed a resolution that the federal government should adopt a comprehensive sustainable tourism policy with a view to using tourism as an important tool for economic diversification, conversation of natural resources and creation of employment.
It also urged the government to separate “culture and tourism” from the Federal Ministry of Information to ensure effective implementation of a sustainable tourism policy that would ensure realization of the recognized potentials of the tourism sector to the nation’s economy.
The upper legislative chamber also called on the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Federal Ministry of Health to intensify surveillance and monitoring of tourist traffic to forestall cross border crimes and epidemics at the nation’s international borders.
These resolutions followed a motion, entitled: “The need for sustainable tourism policy in Nigeria” sponsored by Senator Fatimat Raji-Rasaki (PDP Ekiti Central) during plenary.
Raji Rasaki in the motion noted that “Nigeria is yet to formulate and adopt policies that would develop the tourism sector in a sustainable manner and leverage on the sector as a wealth creator, major source of foreign exchange earner and most viable economic development strategy with positive impact on poverty alleviation”.
She therefore maintained that “it has become absolutely necessary for the Senate to intervene in a manner that would ensure that tourism is given priority in our development agenda because of its globally recognized potentials to contribute to the growth of local economies”.
“Over the last decades, tourism has emerged as one of the largest economic sectors accounting for nine per cent of the world gross domestic products, GDP and over 200 million jobs with business volume of tourism reported to equal or even surpass that of oil exports, food products or automobile.
“Tourism offers millions of direct and indirect entry point into the workforce, particularly for youths and women and ensuring diversify of investment opportunities for young entrepreneurial talents”, she stressed.
In their contributions, Senators Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP Abia North); Gbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East); Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North) and Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP Bayelsa described culture and tourism as a major tool for economic diversification, and urged the federal government to develop all tourist centres across the country.
They noted that many African countries which have developed their culture and tourism sector were not only earning foreign exchange from it, but enjoying viable economic development with massive jobs creation and positive impact on poverty alleviation.
The committee was given two weeks to complete its assignments and report back to the plenary.