The Senate on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to consider de-merging ‘culture and tourism’ from the Federal Ministry of Information.
This is to ensure effective implementation of a sustainable tourism policy that would ensure the optimum realization of the recognised potentials of the tourism sector to the economy.
The Senate observed that Nigeria is yet to formulate and adopt policies that would develop the tourism sector in a sustainable manner and leverage on the sector as a wealth creator, major source of foreign exchange earner and most viable economic development strategy with positively impact on poverty alleviation.
The charge followed deliberation on a motion at the plenary on the need for sustainable tourism policy in Nigeria sponsored by Senator Fatimah Raji-Rasaki (Ekiti Central).
The Senate as well said it is imperative for the government to adopt a comprehensive sustainable tourism policy with a view to using tohrismy as an important tool for economic diversification; conversation of natural resources and creation of employment.
The legislators also mandated its committee on Information and Culture to summon the Minister of Information and Culture to brief the committee on the performance of the culture and tourism sectors and the efforts being made to reposition the sector as a major foreign exchange earner and report back in two weeks.
The Senate noted that over the last decade, tourism has emerged as one of the largest economic sectors accounting for 9% of the world GDP and over 200 million jobs with business volume of tourism reported to equal or even surpass that of oil exports, food products or automobile.
It added that tourism offers millions of direct and indirect entry point into the workforce, particularly for youths and women and ensuring diversity of investment opportunities for young entrepreneurial talents.
Sen Raji- Rasaki noted that the importance and potential contribution of tourism to Nigeria’s quest for economic diversification and creation of employment opportunities to the teeming youths population in recognition of tourism by the United Nations as one of the ten sectors capable of making significant contributions to sustainable development because of its close linkages to other sectors of the economy.
Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East) said Dubai,a nation without oil generates bulk of her revenue from tourism because it continues to improve upon the tourism potentials.
He wondered why Nigeria cannot explore the vast tourism potentials and world class cultural heritage sites in the country.
Tourism, according to the 2008 UN Recommendations on Tourism Statistics, is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for leisure, business, religion, health and for other purposes.