Director-general of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Otunba Segun Runsewe yesterday called on state governments to partner with his corporation in their bid to develop tourism in their respective states.
Making the call in Abuja at an investment forum organised by the Abuja Investment Company Limited, in Abuja,he said the solo approach at tourism development by the various states had resulted in a situation where over five states organise carnivals within the same period, with minimal socio-economic impact in each of the states.
He said the NTDC had made efforts in the past to reach out to the state governments in its drive to develop a calendar of unique tourism events that would raise the tourism profile of each state of the federation to boost domestic tourism and ultimately grow the sector, the latest of such effort according to him, was the agenda NTDC set for the 36 state governors last month.
“A situation in which Calabar Carnival, Rivers State Carnival and Abuja Carnival come up within the same period is not helping the growth of any of the carnivals. Calabar Carnival remains the best we have at the moment and other states can allow it to thrive while they concentrate on other tourism products, like durbar and boat regatta, at other times,” Runsewe said.
He decried the poor attitude of Nigerians towards rest and relaxation, which he said was also inhibiting growth of domestic tourism, adding “ I know many Nigerians who have not gone on leave for the past ten years or more. Everything has been monetised in the civil service, including rest and this is not helping the industry. Many Nigerians do not have vacation on their schedule because many either have too many children or wives they can adequately cater for or do not know the health value of relaxation.”
On the investment opportunities in the tourism sector in the Federal Capital Territory, he maintained that FCT offers a wide investment market for people who want to invest in conference tourism, given the public conference edifices in the city, ecotourism, tour packaging, education tourism, and the art and craft sector.
“Tourism has been listed by the federal government as one of the priority areas of the economy. In view of this status, the sector enjoys some special incentives such as tax holiday, longer years of moratorium and import duty exemption on tourism related equipment,” the NTDC boss stated, while also assuring potential investors of the corporation’s support in matters of regulation and standards.