By Oru Leonard, Abuja
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside has said the tourism industry is one of the biggest contributors to the growth of global economies.
He made the statement in his keynote address presented on Monday 21st of May 2018, at the National Tourism Transport Summit and Expo in Abuja.
Using the Dubai model, the DG noted that the travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with global economic contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of over 7.6 trillion US dollars alone in 2016.
Peterside said other countries of the world with similar situation like Nigeria has keyed into these sector and already achieving great feats. The United Arab Emirates have used transport and tourism to diversify their economy.
“In 2016, tourist spent over $31Billion in Dubai alone, which is the highest amount spent by tourist in a single city anywhere in the world. Emirate airlines carried a total of 51.9 million passengers with revenue in excess of $23.2 billion in 2016/2017 financial year. Today, UAE is earning more foreign exchange from tourism than from their Oil and Gas industry. It is possible for the same feat to be achieved in Nigeria, the DG said.
According to the DG,” The Nigerian economy has for a long time been highly dependent on crude oil, which he said is a danger to the economy of the country, not only because of the volatility of commodity price but more present danger of diminishing demand as a result of the discovery of alternative energy sources by worlds major users” he said.
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) Dr, Dakuku Peterside also called for synergy between the transport and tourism sector while noting that the Maritime industry presents great opportunity for an economic rebirth if its potentials of Blue economy is properly unleashed.
He highlighted that that Nigeria with coastline spanning over 850km the water transportation and tourism are the least tapped even as there present a better outlook for economic diversification.
“Maritime transport worldwide has been and still remains a very important catalyst for economic development of coastal states while supporting the development and growth of tourism. Cruise ships are major suppliers of tourist all over the world and Nigeria cannot be different if we do the right thing”.
International Cargo vessels and Ocean going vessels are other benefits that the country stands to benefit hence over 5000 ocean going vessels bert in Nigeria annually. Each of these vessel come in with an average of 15 crews members who are potential tourist. Most of the Seafarers disembark from their vessels to unwind from their sea journey, visits good restaurants and hotels and other interesting tourist attractions within town” the DG continued.
The DG also said that in developing tourism and transport industry, the watchword should be sustainability, adding that the task must not be left for the government alone, but can be achieved through a collaborative effort of government, private organisations and citizens.
“We must create awareness in the country of the importance of the Seas and Oceans to our lives and the economy at large” the DG said.