The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that sustainability is absolutely necessary if tourism is to achieve its full potentials, which include being a catalyst for economic growth and poverty eradication.
In a statement issued in London on Wednesday to mark the 2017 World Tourism Day, the Minister said without sustainability, tourism cannot generate benefits to all stakeholders, solve serious problems such as extreme poverty, and preserve precious natural and man-made resources on which human prosperity is based.
Referring to the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, which is ‘Sustainable Tourism – Tool for Development’, he said Member States of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) are encouraged to make sure that their policies and actions for tourism development and management fully embrace the principles of sustainability.
”The sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established among these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said that in the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations General Assembly designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, underscoring its power to help eradicate poverty.
”Tourism was singled out in three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of sustainable economic growth and decent employment, sustainable production and consumption, and the conservation and sustainable use of oceans (Goals 8,12 & 14).
”Today, tourism generates 10% of the world’s GDP, one in every 10 jobs, and 30% of world trade in services. It is key to many countries’ economies and livelihoods. It has evolved from an industry engaged in and patronized only by the rich and elites of the society, to an industry enjoyed by all with significant impact on the nation’s economy.
”As an invisible export, tourism creates a flow of foreign currency into the economy of a nation through public revenue which comes in the form of taxes, duties, licenses etc; business revenue derived from services provided by restaurants, hotels, transport, shops etc and from local resident revenue which come in the form of wages, salaries, rent, interests in investments. Most of these revenues especially those that accrue to the business establishments and the local residents are usually ploughed back into the economy to create additional business thereby generating grater revenues and increasing employment opportunities,” the Minister said.
He said while Government will play its part in the development and management of tourism and in making it more sustainable, the real key to making Nigeria’s tourism industry flourish lies with the industry itself and the businesses and organizations at its heart.
”Governments use a number of mechanisms to encourage greater private-sector engagement, capturing its expertise in ways that will be beneficial to the companies themselves as well as population. The private sector, on the other hand, has an opportunity to work collaboratively with government to yield unprecedented returns in both economic and human capital, and fulfilling the promise of a more equitable, productive, and prosperous global community,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
Overall, he said, sustainable tourism requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.
The idea of World Tourism Day was initiated by a Nigerian, late Mr. Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi, the then Secretary General of the Nigeria Tourism Association (NTA), now Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), and Chairman of Africa Travel Commission (ATC). It was adopted at the 22nd General Assembly of the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO) in 1971.
The 27th of September of every year is marked as the World Tourism Day to create awareness for tourism as a tool for economic growth and promotion of international peace and understanding.