Nigerian Comedian, Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as Ali Baba, on Saturday called for the commercialisation of Nigerian festivals to boost nation’s Gross Domestic Product and woo local and international tourists.
Akpobome made the call during an online zoom meeting of the five tourism sub-sectors, with the theme: “Post-COVID-19: A Fresh Start for Tourism in Nigeria,” organised by the Nigeria Travel Week.
He said Nigerian festivals were still at their rudimentary stage and the potential for commercialisation must be developed.
According to him, each time these festivals are celebrated, tourists should be made to pay a token, which would boost the states’ internally generated revenue and the nation’s GDP.
He said the content of these festivals must also be developed.
He said: “To revive our festivals in Nigeria, we need to look at the commercial angle, we need to identify the potential of each tourism asset and go all out to create commercial value around them.
“We need to build content from our tourism potential.
“Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States are known for mountainous regions, but we have not created awareness and activities around these mountains.
“We should have T-Shirts on which Zuma Rock is drawn to create awareness.
“Lagos State is called the aquatic state, where deep sea diving can be done, but what have we made of it.
“The biggest problem we have is that we do not know how to add value to what we have.”
The comedian said until every state of the federation was mandated to generate enough revenue for themselves, the nation would continue to abandoned its bountiful potential.
Akpobome said: “Our problem is we believe that money made from oil should cater for everyone and every state, but we forget that virtually all state have their potential to groom for revenue generation.
“Sokoto has desert, which is the major tourism potential in Dubai, used to create beautiful structures we long to visit now, but the state is not bothered to develop it.
“The Nigerian tourism master plan was not properly defined right from time.
“We have not seen tourism as a serious business.
“We only allow it flow.”
Earlier, National President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, Susan Akporiaye, assured of the association’s willingness to collaborate with other tourism stakeholders.
Akporiaye said this was the way to go considering the effect of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.