The tourism industry is a veritable economic driver in most parts of the world. It is the largest and fastest growth industry the world over, accounting for over US 1 Trillion per annum in direct earnings. From Europe to Asia to some parts of Africa, the growth of the tourism industry can be gleaned from the immense advantages enjoyed by countries which have invested in it. These advantages range from generation of revenue and foreign exchange, return on investment, creation of jobs, fostering of cultural exchange, giving a people a sense of place and character, to mention a few.
Countries such as Britain and France, have a highly developed tourism sector, which helps generate enormous revenue for them. In Britain, tourist attractions such as the London Eye, Big Ben, Trafalga Square, and of course, the Buckingham Palace, continue to attract tourists all year round from all parts of the world. In 2011 alone, with an estimate of about 30.7 million tourists who visited the United Kingdom, one can only imagine the income and foreign exchange this number must have generated for the country.
In France, tourism attractions abound, from the Eiffel Tower, to the Arc the Triumph, to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. Each year millions of tourists flock to this beautiful country to enjoy the splendor and grandeur of these cultural and historical sites. On a recent visit to the Palace of Versailles, we were amazed to see throngs of foreigners lining up just to experience first-hand, the history of this amazing, awe-inspiring place.
Tourism is therefore a catalyst for economic growth and cultural integration. In Africa, tourism as a tool for development has been adopted by a few countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and a few others. Egypt, today, ranks as the number one most visited country in Africa, while South Africa, ranks number 2. Following South Africa’s independence and break from apartheid in 1994, the country has been making frantic efforts to develop its tourism sector and attract the world to its shores. This it has successfully done not only by placing tourism at the forefront of its economic growth but by ensuring that the infrastructural development to drive this sector is not found lacking.
In Ghana, tourism is a key sector contributing as its third foreign exchange earner after minerals and cocoa, while in Tanzania, tourism accounts for 50% of its foreign exchange earnings. The above statistics lend credence to the fact that tourism is the lifeline of economies and any country with abundant tourist potential should take advantage of its enduring benefits.
Nigeria is endowed with an array of tourism resources. From the north to the west to the south and to the east is a treasure trove enough to entice even the non-travel enthusiast. Ancient cities like Calabar, Benin, Ibadan, Arochukwu, Kano, Zaria, to mention a few are replete with ancient arts, crafts, architecture and vast unspoiled nature, all of which form the historical fabric of the people inhabiting these cities.
It is therefore our utmost desire to work with and collaborate with support agencies and institutions towards harnessing and preserving our abundant tourist resources in order to help generate a sustainable economy, while giving tourism a new face in Nigeria.