Integrate Tourism Into Overall Economic, Social, Fiscal Policy – Lai Mohammed

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Lai MohammedThe minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said Nigeria’s tourism sector can only develop when fully integrated into the overall economic, social and fiscal policy of the nation.

The minister spoke at the launch of the 5th edition of the National Tourism Transportation Summit and Expo, organized by the Institute of Tourism Professionals, Nigeria (ITPN) in collaboration with the transport and tourism agencies.

The two-day event tagged AfCFTA:  Strengthening Connectivity, Effects, and Partnerships aim at converging key players in the tourism and transport sectors for a healthy dialogue towards strengthening links between both sectors and maximizing their impact on employment, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Listing the government’s role in providing the right policies and regulatory frameworks to incentivize private sector investment, he said such a move will not only increase revenue at national, state and local levels but also help raise the standard of living in Nigeria. He urged the private sector to work in partnership with federal authorities to understand and cater to the needs of tourists and the tourism industry.

Speaking on the incentivization of private sector investment, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Assistant Director, Investor Services, Augustine Onyekwelu said the agency is working to ensure that local companies, particularly those operating in the free trade zones (in Nigeria) meets up with the AfCFTA agreement.

Onyekwelu who represented the MD/CEO of the (NEPZA), Professor Adesoji Adesugba, noted that many businesses have left the country owing to infrastructural decay. For Nigeria to compete favorably within the confines of the AfCFTA, it must create an enabling environment, in addition to implementing policies that will give direction to the sectors.

“Ghana, Rwanda, and many other countries in Africa are targeting Nigeria’s 200 million population. The free trade zone will provide those infrastructures that are not within the country.

“Our presence at the summit is timely. We are embarked on infrastructural upgrades. We will work with the ministry of transport and the National Action Committee. The transportation sector is a key component. If It is not given attention, then Nigerian manufacturers targeting other African countries will manufacture at a high cost, and thus unable to key into market penetration into other African countries.”

While security is a major challenge to the Nigerian economy, such a challenge he noted can be turned into an advantage for the nation.

“Every country has its peculiar challenges, Nigeria included. We do have a security challenge. But challenges can also be opportunities that can be taken advantage of for Nigeria’s good. I think what the presidency is doing will over time surmount those challenges,” said Onyekwelu.

Highlighting the need to strengthen partnerships amongst key stakeholders of the sectors, ITPN President, Biodun Odunsanwo said the summit has engaged and converged with gatekeepers responsible for the quality and regulatory control in both sectors – customs, immigration, police, health officers; private and public sector CEOs, and the international communities represented by their ambassadors, to dialogue and explore AfCFTA, intra-Africa, and international trade.

“We are here to listen to deliberations from captains of industries, to see how we can build partnerships and ensure that the network required for this to thrive is established. We have here, discussants who are specialists in their own areas, to deliberate, and dig deeper into arising subjects and speak to us more on trade collaborations among African countries, promoting intra-African trade and trade outside of Africa.”

Founded in 2018, the annual National Tourism Transportation Summit & Expo aims at taking advantage of the connectivity of the transport sector (road, rail, air, and water) which is at the heart of the tourism development, to provide substantial economic benefits for all those involved in the tourism value chain.

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