Some travel and tourism operators in Lagos on Saturday urged the Federal Government to speed up improvement of transport infrastructure to facilitate tourism growth.
They made the call during a webinar organised by the Nigerian Travel Week and Travelscope Magazine, with the theme: ”A Fresh Start for Tourism in Nigerian Transportation Sector”.
The experts said that poor road network to some tourism sites, inadequate lighting in some airports and safety and security concerns had posed a challenge to tourism growth in the country.
Mr Abiola Lawal, Chief Executive Officer, Quorum Aviation, said that more investment still needed to be made to endear tourists to travel round the country, exploring the road, air space and waterways.
He called on the Federal Government to invest more in the travel industry for tourism businesses to thrive.
According to him, the tourism industry is contributing five per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which, he said, was small in view of the potential in the industry.
“Our airports should be able to function beyond 7:00p.m. like those in developed countries; needed infrastructure should be put in place to enable this to happen.
“Governments need to understand that travel and tourism businesses take huge investment in dollars, and the returns on the investment will be got over a period of time.
“This investment is necessary to make air transport viable and affordable for all,” he said.
Lawal urged operators in the tourism value chain – hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents, tour guides, airlines and others – to engage in productive and sustainable partnerships to boost domestic tourism.
Mr Obi Mbanuzuo, Chief Operating Officer, Dana Air, said that the Nigerian tourism industry had the potential to boost the nation’s GDP, but needed more infrastructure.
Mbanuzuo urged tourism operators to engage in more destination marketing to boost the country’s GDP.
He assured Nigerians of safety on board Dana Air in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that Dana Air had been able to mitigate some of the risk factors involved in air travels.
“We have not marketed Nigerians tourism sites enough, the aviation industry cannot do it alone, tourism practitioners should also get seriously involved in this.
“To restore passenger confidence, we have exposed all staff to rigorous training on how best to ensure safety measures on board so that passengers are safe,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Ganiyu Balogun, Chief Executive Officer, Tarzan Boat, called on the government to clean the Nigerian waterways to be pleasurable enough for tourists to explore.
Balogun said that some Nigerians had only been exploring the Bar Beach for tourism experience.
He said that more pleasure could be derived from the waterways if properly taken care of.
He said it was high time tourists travelled by water from one state to another and from Nigeria to Benin Republic and other neighbouring countries.
” We need to develop our waterways to properly explore aquatic tourism; travelling by water from state to state add to pleasurable experiences.
“Security on waterways should be paramount to the government; likewise infrastructure development,” he said.
Mr Obinna Anyaegbu, Executive Director, Chisco Transport, urged proper reorientation of Nigerians to see tourism and hospitality as ways of life
He said that availability of adequate travel infrastructure would encourage Nigerians to travel and explore more tourism sites in the country.
“Governments need to do more on travel infrastructure to ensure pleasurable experiences for travellers and tourists because tourism is all about the experience.
“On our path, we try to provide comfortable vehicles, we are open to tour companies in terms of collaboration to market destination sites.
“It is high time Nigerians retained dollars spent on tourism outside the country; we have everything it takes to entice tourists but governments must work on our roads, airports and waterways,” he said. (NAN)