The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says tourism will be the next oil industry in the country in terms of revenue generation among other benefits.
The minister said this during a working visit to the Director-General, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, Mr Folorunsho Coker, in Abuja.
He said that the industry had contributed to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.24 per cent and would target to increase it.
According to the minister, the nation’s tourism industry is the fastest growing industry that has employed over one million people and has the capacity of employing beyond the number.
Mohammed, however, charged the NTDC to explore unexplored opportunities in the tourism sector to create more jobs in the society.
The minister who noted that the sector is “grossly untapped”, said the corporation was sitting on a “cake of unexploited potential” and has the capacity to harness, attract and promote the country’s tourism.
“In the nearest future, the creative industry will be the next oil of Nigeria because it will always remain fresh so it is very pivotal,” Mohammed said.
He added that NTDC was not just an apex organisation of tourism but the centre and coordinator of the tourism sector that promotes and markets Nigerian products locally and globally.
” The beauty of the industry is that it has created a platform and employment for youths.
“Tourism is not just about sightseeing, rather the entire entertainment industry to showcase the world what Nigeria is blessed with.
“The creative industry will be the next oil industry, our film, fashion, music, others will always remain fresh and attract people to visit.
“There are many things that will attract tourists in the country because we are blessed with rich cultural heritage, films and music that have global recognition,” he said.
Mohammed reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring that solutions would be proffered to the challenges faced by the corporation.
He, therefore, urged the corporation to harness opportunities in the tourism sector in order to take the sector to an enviable height.
Earlier, the director-general of the NTDC said that it was imperative for the corporation to have a legal framework to enable it to harness tourism potentials.
According to him, the most important discourse with the minister is to seek ways to ensure that the legal framework of NTDC is realised.
He added that the ministry and the corporation would work hand in hand to ensure that NTDC laws be resubmitted for review and presidential assent.
Coker disclosed that the corporation was working in partnership with states, the private sector and international bodies to help meet its mandates.
“When we found oil in Nigeria, we needed the framework to bring that oil out of the ground and that is why we have oil exploration today.
“Fortunately, that generated a lot of wealth that is why we had banking revolutions and that is why we have the new generation banks.
“And that brought so much wealth that generated new wealth and that gave birth to another transmission that brought about the telecommunications,” he said.
According to him, “we have a digital framework in the promotion of tourism, information and the sharing of the nation’s culture”.
He said a framework for tourism would move rapidly to do what the GSM did to ‘090’ in terms of telecommunication development.
“We have our brand called ‘tour Nigeria’ and if you watch CNN, you will see ‘Malaysia truly Asia’ and ‘ incredible India’ which we use to tell that Nigerians love Nigerians but don’t know Nigeria and we choose to tour Nigeria.
“And we choose a brand tour, Nigeria and soft brand called Nigeria flavours and tour Nigeria, to experience the flavours of Nigeria in terms of films, foods, fashion, Arts, religion, others.
“Nigerian fashion makes a statement anywhere we go, even our religion is a phenomenon that has gone global and we must look at Nigeria even as Nigerians.
“Driving our domestic tourism policy; that is ‘tour Nigeria’ and ‘experiencing flavours of Nigeria’ are two brands that we market in NTDC,” he added.
He, therefore, reiterated commitment to work with relevant apparatus that exist in the ministry, state governments and other stakeholders to move the corporation forward.
The minister was accompanied on the visit with the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Deaconess Grace Isu- Gekpe, among other dignitaries.