Tourism over the years has proven to be a strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to economic growth of any nation.
As it generates billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs.
Acknowledging these facts, many developing and developed countries today rely on tourism as an option for sustainable development of their nations.
Though Nigeria is richly blessed and endowed with both physical and cultural tourism potentials it has been relatively insignificant on the world tourism map.
This is because the nation’s economy has been mainly petroleum-driven, with the result that tourism does not play any significant role in the economy.
Much prominence has been given to oil production as the major source of revenue, particularly, foreign exchange at the expense of other industries including tourism.
Factors that affect the nation’s tourism sector include poor implementation of tourism plans, absence of defined measures to encourage participation in tourism, policy formulation and implementation, and poor infrastructural development.
It was also discovered that successive administrations have not shown commitment to tourism development beyond mere rhetoric.
Unless tourism is seen as strategically important to the economy of Nigeria and the necessary plans, policies, actions and resources to support this initiative are put in place, tourism will continue to be a missed opportunity.
For instance, in Ondo state, much concentration is still on cultural tourism which is promoting the culture through festivals and celebrities.
The state is also endowed with natural resources which if developed, will help to generate employment for the people and boost the local economy.
The time has come for the country to harness the potential in the tourism sector to protect its culture and heritage.
To do this, government at all levels should commit a lot of resources to the development of tourism sector.
Also, federal government needs to create a conducive environment so that visitors could be attracted to the nation’s tourist sites.
The provision of efficient transportation, stable power supply, water and telecommunications will make Nigeria a tourism destination for foreign nationals.
Above all, there should be attitudinal change by states and local government to improve their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, through tourism development thereby reducing dependence on federal allocation.