Lagos – A stakeholder in the tourism sector, Mr Ashamu Fadipe, has urged the Federal and state governments to invest hugely in sport tourism to boost foreign exchange (Forex) earnings.
Fadipe told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that sport tourism would be the next goldmine for economic development if properly harnessed.
NAN reports that Fadipe was a former Permanent Secretary in the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture.
According to him, there are several opportunities that abound in the sector that can bring about growth and national development.
He said that sport tourism involved the movement of people from one place, one region to another one country to country for sporting activities.
He said that the movement would entail athletes and officials spending money on locally- made products of host communities , hotel accommodation, mobility and consumption of local cuisines.
“If Nigeria can be hosting sporting activities periodically, it will generate employment, boost foreign exchange earnings, increase patronage of locally made products and create investment opportunity, “he said.
Fadipe said that the just concluded Access Bank Lagos Marathon Race served as a good example of how to promote and encourage sport tourism in the country.
He said that several local and international visitors participated in the event which had economic and social impact on the host community, Lagos.
“This development will encourage the youth to venture into sporting activities and also attract investors to invest in the sector, ” he said.
Fadipe listed some other areas of sport tourism that government could invest in to include: car racing, horse riding, golf, water, bike and football.
He also said that: Monaco, France, Brazil, Mexico, England, Spain, Italy and Germany were some of the countries that had developed their economies through sport tourism.
“Most of these countries generate billions of dollars by organizing sporting activities.
“England through its Premiership League Competition generates billions of pound sterling into its national treasury.
“Spain too through its La Liga Competition realises billions of dollars annually.
“If Nigeria can invest in sport tourism generally, government will realise billions of dollars in return on investment,” he said.
Fadipe said that sport lovers would fly into the country to watch football or other sporting competitions.
According to him, the fans will pay entrance fee into the stadium, hotel bills while business owners, commercial car owners, eateries and tour operators will equally benefit from it.
He said that sport tourism would also expose the host community’s culture, arts and tourism assets, products and potential to the visitors and indirectly, the world.
It would also help to development domestic tourism, he said.
He said that this would also reduce unemployment.