In order to achieve the first ten-year implementation plan of the Africa Union’s agenda 2063 aimed at doubling the contribution of tourism to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has advised African Governments to adopt measures that support local sourcing, encourage local entities’ participation in the tourism value chain and boost infrastructure development.
To meet this target, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mukhisa Kituyi who described tourism as a dynamic sector with phenomenal potential in Africa said there is need for tourism in Africa to grow at a faster and stronger pace. He stressed that if properly managed, it can contribute immensely to diversification and inclusion for vulnerable communities.
Kituyi disclosed this in a statement yesterday at the unveiling of the 2017 Economic Development in Africa Report produced by UNCTAD at the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos.
Recent report showed that tourism in Africa is a flourishing industry that supports more than 21 million jobs contributes about 8.5 per cent to the continent’s GDP. It explained that between 1998 and 2014, international tourist arrivals to Africa have increased from 24 million to 56 million, with increased revenue of $47 billion.
Indeed, the United Nations General Assembly designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism and Development called on all concerned actors to take advantage of the international year to sustain tourism as means of promoting and accelerating sustainable development through poverty eradication and job creation.
Speaking on the theme of the report, “Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth”, Director, UNIC, Ronald Kayanja who noted that tourism will play a role in enabling the world achieve the 17 global goals, however, lamented the untapped opportunities in the tourism industry in Nigeria. According to Kayanja, Nigeria still ranks very low with a mere 1.2 million visitors in 2015 compared to 9 million for South Africa and 10 million for Morocco in the same year.
He said: “For Nigeria, promoting tourism is consistent with the goal of the government to diversify the economy. The emphasis by the federal government on ease of doing business and the added focus on investing in small, medium and micro enterprises will go a long way to help the tourism sector.”
Making a presentation of the report is a Professor in the department of Economics, University of Lagos, Ndubuisi Nwokoma stressed the need for tourism to grow faster than GDP to achieve the first ten year implementation plan. He bemoaned the insufficient premium placed on tourism by oil exporting states in Africa. Describing tourism like a hanging fruit in Africa waiting to be harvested, he emphasized on the need to place more attention to the sector which stands to grow the GDP of the continent.
On recommendations generated from the report, he said: “In creating the necessary environment to thrive the sector, security should be enhanced. We need to also make sure we develop other sectors like Agriculture so that there could be strong inter-sectoral linkages. This would help to minimize the foreign inputs used in serving the sector.”
The President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nike Akande who was the chief guest at the launch said the body known for its advocacy functions will help to push to assist Nigerians benefit from the sector with lots of revenue accrued to government and individual private sector from tourism.
On what Lagos state is doing in the tourism sector that could be of help Nigeria on the long run, the acting commissioner for tourism, arts and culture, Adebimpe Akinsola said: “Infrastructural development is uppermost in the heart of the government of Lagos state and that is why we announced that the federal government has acceded to the fact that Lagos state government should construct the road from the airport as it serves as the window to Nigeria. That has been a source of concern to the state government.”
She added that “Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has placed premium to the tourism sector as it has the potential to transform the economic growth of Nigeria and Lagos in particular, that is why he is putting up infrastructural developments that would help tourism to thrive and grow in Lagos state”.