Nigeria’s size, diversity potential for domestic tourism development — Mbanefo

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ABUJA – Mrs Sally Mbanefo, Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), has said that the size and diverse cultures of the country have great potential for the development of domestic tourism.
Mbanefo made the statement at the Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibitions (NTIFE) 2014 in Abuja on Wednesday.
She said of all types of tourism, domestic tourism would be more beneficial to the country because of its large land space and the different ethnic and cultural groups.
“Under domestic tourism, our size and diverse potentialities are of immense value and advantage,” Mbanefo said.
She said available data showed that Nigeria recorded 4,037,808 tourists in 2013 who spent 700 million dollars during their stay in the country.
“This shows the impact that tourism can have on our economy if properly harnessed.
“Even international initiatives have highlighted the potential of tourism to contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction, environmental protection, cultural preservation and job creation,’’ Mbanefo said.
According to her, the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) emphasises poverty reduction as one of its primary themes for tourism development.
“UNWTO Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty initiative focuses on aligning the goals of sustainable tourism with activities that specifically alleviate poverty.
“It is important to note that a vibrant business environment is supported by a vibrant tourism community which thrives on the financial support of spending by visitors.
“This contributes to the quality of life of the people through sporting events, festivals, carnivals, religious tourism, wildlife, eco-tourism, beach tourism all of which we have in abundance,’’ she said.
Mbanefo pointed out  that cities, such as Dubai, which Nigerians regarded as tourist destinations, could not compare with Nigeria in terms of natural endowments.
The NTDC boss said the capital flight from Nigeria to other countries through outbound tourism if spent in the country would alleviate poverty and generate jobs for the youth.
“When individuals take their wedding ceremonies outside the country to show affluence it has a multiplier effect on all sectors of the economy because even the food vendors that would have benefited from it are deprived, ‘’ she said.
Mbanefo admonished Nigerians to celebrate their values, tourism sites and cultural heritage to build a sustainable tourism industry.
The two-day forum featured exhibitions of items made from local materials.
The forum, an annual event, is organised by the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). (NAN)

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