The former President of the Guild of Tourism Journalists in Nigeria, Wale Ojo-Lanre, has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the National Assembly to shore up the budgetary allocation for the newly-created Ministry of Tourism and its parastatals.
Ojo-Lanre, a lawyer, is also the Director-General of the Bureau of Tourism Development in Ekiti State.
He made this call during an engagement with journalists in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, after delivering a Goodwill Message at a workshop organised by the South West/Niger Delta Forest Development, with the theme: “Ecotourism Development and Tourism Business Development of Ise Forest Conservation Area.”
Ojo-Lanre, who commended President Tinubu for creating a stand-alone Ministry for the sector, pointed out that without a considerable budget allocation to the new Ministry and its parastatals, the speedy progression of the tourism sector will not only be stunted, but the Ministry will be winking in the dark.
He revealed that the tourism sector in Nigeria has immense potential to contribute significantly to the country’s economy and job creation, adding that to fully tap into this potential, it is paramount that the industry receives sufficient attention and support.
He said: “By supporting the Tourism Ministry and its parastatals through increased budget funding, the Federal Government and National Assembly would be demonstrating their commitment to unlocking the sector’s immense potential.”
Ojo-Lanre also urged the National Assembly to add legislative value and necessary legal framework so that the new Ministry and its parastatals will hit the ground running.
Recognising the immense human capital development needs of the tourism industry, he urged them to specifically allocate a bumper budget for the National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality Development, which is saddled with manpower development of the sector.
He pointed out that there is an urgent need to pay greater attention to manpower development in the tourism sector, a sector he noted thrives in excellent service dictated by international standards and rules
Ojo-Lanre revealed that the National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality Development plays a vital role in equipping the sector with skilled professionals and promoting sustainable tourism practices.
He emphasised that the funding boost would enable the institute to enhance its training programmes, infrastructure and research capabilities.
“By providing quality education and hands-on training, NIHTOUR has the power to nurture a skilled workforce that matches the industry’s demands and international standards,” he said.
Ojo-Lanre highlighted that investing in the tourism and hospitality sector results in numerous socio-economic benefits, adding: “It creates job opportunities, drives entrepreneurship, boosts local businesses, and contributes to community development.”
While acknowledging the challenges faced by the country in allocating funds to various sectors, Ojo-Lanre underscored the critical importance of prioritising the development of the tourism industry.
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He said: “Increased investment in human capital development will propel Nigeria towards becoming a competitive tourism destination and generate positive ripple effects across various sectors.”
He urged the Federal Government and National Assembly to heed this call for better budget funding for the Ministry of Tourism, National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality Development and Nigeria Tourism Development Authority, adding: “By doing so, they will pave the way for a thriving and sustainable tourism industry, which will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s economic growth and overall development.”