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Experts urge Nigerians to utilise rural tourism potential in communities


ABUJA – Tourism experts on Thursday urged Nigerians to take advantage of the nation’s wide tourist attractions to develop rural tourism in Nigeria.

The stakeholders spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

Mr Manfred Nzekwe, General Manager Enugu State Tourism Board, said Nigeria was endowed with various natural tourist potentials.

He said the potentials were not man made and therefore “we should be grateful to God for this”.

Ezeugwu, therefore, asked for increased patronage by locals, to develop the sector, saying that all over the world, tourism was now receiving a massive boost.

“Just as there are hundreds of tribes in Nigeria, so are there cultural and traditional diversities which in themselves are tourist factors.

“Each of these peculiarities can be packaged to attract tourists with the attendant boost to the local economies.”

He observed that even the people in the localities, where the tourist sites were found, do not even visit those sites.

“You will be surprised that many indigenes of those rural tourism sites have never visited the sites under their nose, so how can they tell outsiders what potentials they have in their area.

“Some parents even warn their children to steer clear the sites, saying it is dangerous to visit them and even the elites among them still prefer international tourism.

“The elite travels abroad just to show off but I am telling them now to bring that money back to our communities so we can have what is obtainable abroad,” he said.

Another tourism consultant, Alhaji Usman Abdullahi, in his response to the issue, said that it was only when Nigerians patronised tourist sites in the communities that the industry can be boosted.

“If we patronise our rural tourist sites and also talk about them, we are unwittingly advertising them to the outside world.

“We boost the industry and also show the world that we have places worth visiting.’’ he said.

He said that one other issue that Nigerians should be conscious of was how well to promote and advertise their local tourist sites.

“We should embark on intensive and extensive promotion of our tourism selling points as a means of encouraging, not only the international community, but our own people, to take advantage of them.

Dr Adebayo Adegboyega, also a consultant, criticised the amount of support given to the development of rural tourism by different tiers of government in Nigeria.

“Government, especially the local governments, should invest in tourism in order to attract visitors as well as create jobs in the industry.

“In Great Britain alone, the British tourism authority receives a substantial amount of money annually to boost tourism while the rest of the funding is from the private sector.

“So it is necessary for the private sectors to be involved in the growth and development of rural tourism in the country.”

Adegboyega said the local governments should get involved by doing what they could do at their own levels, to develop the potentialities that existed within their own domain.

He stressed that it was important because it would generally boost business activities and employment opportunities within the area.

“This can be particularly far reaching for those involved in the production of arts and crafts, foods and wines, recreation, music and dance, just as the hospitality sector will
be the better for it.’’ (NAN)

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