*Stress need to make tourism major revenue earner
The Senate on Thursday questioned the rationale behind the inclusion of the Culture and Tourism sector in the Ministry of Information when the minister has constantly showed a disposition towards the development of the sector.
The Senate which berated the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism for Lai Mohammed for failing to attend a public hearing on a Bill seeking to repeal and re-enact the Nigeria Tourism Development corporation (NTDC) Act, organized by its committee on Culture and Tourism, explained that the Minister has consistently showed a lack of interest in its development, and also observed that due to the lack of enabling laws to give legal backings to the establishment of some agencies in the tourism sector as well as regulate their activities some of them have become drain pipes to government as they have not been generating any revenues into the economy.
Consequently, the senators at the hearing chaired by Senator Matthew Urhogide canvassed that the culture and tourism sector be severed from the ministry of Information in order to give it focus and direction as a major revenue earner for the country as is the case in other world economies.
Declaring the public hearing open, The senate President Bukola Saraki who was represented bu the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Mohammed Ibn Na’Allah said that “The state of the nation’s economy today further reinforces the urgent need to initiate deliberate and sustained efforts towards diversifying it’s mono product economy which is largely dependent on crude oil.”
The Senate President pointed out “The culture and tourism industry is a veritable means of driving the renaissance of a vibrant economic activity in Nigeria. Indeed the indicators are extremely encouraging. Our country’s movie industry is ranked second in the world. However our dance, tourism and music are huge potentials that remain largely untapped. We have found out that one of the reasons mitigating against the emergence of a viable tourism economy is the dearth of legal provisions which will help in facilitating and assuring standard of ethics in the industry”.
Senator Saraki said “I am particularly happy that members of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism under Senator Urhoghide is living up to the challenge I hurled on them during the inauguration of this Committee when I urged members to develop strategies to harness these opportunities and further ensure that our tourist sites are developed and made appealing enough to attract foreign direct investments. I am glad to be part of the history today”.
He assured the tourism stakeholders of the readiness and willingness of the Senate to collaborate with the private sector on legislative capacity at ensuring the enhancement of the tourism sector.
Earlier in his remarks, Uhrogide noted that the Act establishing some agencies and parastatals set them out for mare entertainment while others have no legal frameworks for their existence.
He stated that the role of culture and tourism in enhancing economic growths cannot be over emphasized as it serves as a catalyst to the growth and economic development of any nation, and that it contributes about 10.2 percent of global GDP.
The senator therefore noted that Nigeria as a country cannot afford to be left behind in partaking in the revenues accruing from the sector especially considering its vision of wanting to make the Nigeria tourism sector become one of the 20 income earners in the world.
He described the NTDC establishment Act of 1982 which the new Bill seeks to repeal as characterised with too many irregularities and has not gone through any form of re-enactment since then.