Nollywood star, Kanayo Kanayo in Abuja on Friday described Nigeria’s tourism industry as a `gold mine’ which should be tapped to boost the nation’s economy.
Kanayo said during his familiarisation tour of the Nigerian Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) that the industry was one of the non-oil sectors which the present administration was focusing attention on.
The actor, who was recently appointed as the board chairman of NIHOTOUR, said that the institution needed to evolve programmes that would really educate Nigerians on the importance of tourism.
Commending the Director-General of the institute, Alhaji Munzali Dantata, Kanayo promised a good working relationship to achieve the institute’s core mandates.
“From what I have seen on ground, it shows that Nigeria is workable. That we only need to give directions and we can achieve a lot with several departments of the institute.
“We can put a lot of programmes in place that will help to drive the economy of Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is redirecting its attention to the non-oil sector.
“And this is a place we have to key in as part of the transformation agenda to ensure that the tourism sector becomes that gold mine we will tap from like other countries to boost our economy,’’ Kanayo said.
He said the institute had a lot it could offer Nigerians and non-Nigerians in the areas of training and manpower development.
“As a regulatory agency to the hospitality and tourism sector, it is a huge task and I am willing and committed to use my experience to bear in the development of the sector.
“We want to de-emphasise this idea of I have my holidays in Dubai or other foreign countries and make Nigerians interested in enjoying their holidays within the country.
Kanayo promised to use his position to ensure that the bill establishing the institute was passed into law.
Earlier, Dantata said that the institute’s mandate was to ensure that training offered at all levels and cadres were streamlined, focused and properly coordinated.
“The institute is charged to provide training and grow manpower for not only Nigeria’s hospitality and tourism industry, but also for the entire West Africa region,’’ he said.
“NIHOTOUR is now moving on to becoming more of a regulatory agency for the training of industry sector manpower.
“The institute has a policy to have a training school in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country.
“We have achieved that with the current six training schools in operation,’’ the director-general said.
Dantata said that the institute was also planning to get the private sector and state governments involved in setting up training institutions for tourism and hospitality students and prospective practitioners.