What the minister of tourism must know – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

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It is no longer news that the 16th President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) has appointed new ministers, establishing new Ministries in the process. We now have a Ministry for Tourism, headed by Mrs. Lola Ade-John.

A Lagosian by birth, the new Minister holds a first degree from the Premier University of Ibadan, in Computer Science. She rose through various positions in different private sector organizations to become a seasoned ICT administrator. She made her mark especially in the banking sector, radiating her technological and business acumen wherever she goes.

With her pedigree in the ICT and the banking industry, the Tourism Ministry is surely going to witness a birth of innovative ideas in the management of the sector. Mrs. Lola Ade-John is a breath of fresh air who will bring her wealth of experience to bear in tackling the challenges of the Tourism industry in Nigeria.

Also, in line with the 8-point socio-economic agenda of President Tinubu’s Administration, it has become incumbent upon the Honorable Minister to position the industry at the forefront of development. It is well known that Nigeria is a country filled with amazing tourist sites; however, most people both at home and abroad are largely unaware of this vast resource that can generate immense wealth and goodwill for the nation. The first challenge to be tackled Is the area of improving security in the various tourist sites across the nation. The recent nationwide spate of insecurity has led to a lack of trust and widespread fear both at home and abroad. Despite the deep potential tourism has to add to our economic growth, tourists are scared of visiting these sights, with herdsmen spreading terror in the middle belt, Boko Haram in the north-central, and pockets of insurrection in the east and south from militants. These unfortunate and tragic happenings have shed a terrible light on Nigeria’s image internationally. Securing these tourist sites will both serve as an incentive for improving the volume of tourists and as a consequence, create employment opportunities for the locals while boosting revenue generation and economic activities in these regions. Ultimately this creates a positive cycle that will boost Nigeria’s image in the international community.

There is also the issue of “medical tourism”, a phenomenon where Nigerians of means are leaving the country in droves in search of quality healthcare outside the shores of Nigeria. For Nigeria to stand as the Giant it is, the ministry should aim to reverse this trend and instead have foreigners see Nigeria as a bastion of quality healthcare. This can be done by the Government investing in state-of-the-art modern healthcare facilities or providing an enabling environment for indigenous private investors to partner with foreign investors and build Healthcare facilities to world-class standards. These cannot be made possible without capital. Thus, access to funding is critical for the achievement of this vision.

Consequently, it has become urgent to raise awareness on Nigeria’s tourism potential by deliberate investment in tourism promotion and aggressive marketing of a national brand. This should be done both at the domestic and international tourism trade shows. When properly harnessed, these potentials have the immense ability to yield massive revenue and place Nigeria high in the major world ranking of Tourism sites.
A synthesis of the new Honorable Minister’s resumé shows that she is clearly an asset to the tourism industry. The world is evolving through digital and technological advancement, and there is a need for the Honorable Minister to leverage her expertise in this domain and upgrade the ministry to align with global best standards.

It is hoped that a blend of IT and tourism will engender the much-needed engine to drive greater efficiency, and accessibility and ignite global competitiveness within the industry. Nigerians are with her through her journey in this sector, and through her able leadership, Nigerians will ensure that all hands are on deck as we pursue our shared core values towards unlocking the full potential of tourism and making the industry a vibrant one.

With the rich heritage of cultural diversity that Nigeria offers, the Ministry exists as a pivot that must be engaged fully to ensure that Nigeria stands tall in the community of Nations and showcases her natural beauty, vibrant tourist attractions, and hospitality.

Offiong, Ememmaria writes from Abuja.

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