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Tourism, others employed over 9.8m Nigerians – Lai Mohammed

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said to set the record straight, the Travel, Hospitality, Tourism and other related services have over 1 million private establishments employing over 9.8 million persons in the 36 States including the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.

The Minister disclosed this at the take-off of the North Central Zonal Headquarters of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) in Markurdi, Benue State on Monday, he said federal government is doing everything possible to encourage tourism development in Nigeria because the benefits derivable therein are tremendous.

According to him, “Benue State and the country in general will benefit from the great export earning capacity, employment generation, wealth redistribution, infrastructural development and inter sectoral linkage incentives derivable from tourism globally.

“The hospitality industry in Nigeria contributed about 4.8% to Nigeria’s total national output (GDP) and utilized about 1.6% of Nigerians in the year 2016. In addition, according to PricewaterhouseCooper’s 2019 hospitality report, the Nigerian hospitality industry is expected to grow by 12% yearly till 2023, making it one of the fastest growing markets. That’s until the world encountered a hurdle by the name Covid-19”, he said.

Alhaji Lai added that Federal Government has been doing a lot to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially as it affects the Creative and Tourism Sector. “For example, under its N75 billion Survival Fund for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, the Federal Government has paid 2,186 companies employing 12,117 individuals, under the payroll support, as part of the efforts to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Federal Government will continue to do everything possible to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on the sector. Now, one of the prerequisites for tourism to develop and play its desired role in the socio-economic life of a nation is availability of well-trained personnel.

“This forms the basis for the Federal Government’s decision to have a specialized training institution for the hospitality and tourism industry in Nigeria, which culminated in the establishment of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR).

“NIHOTOUR is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and it is saddled with the mandate of providing skills proficiency, technical upgrading programmes and professional knowledge-based education in the hospitality and tourism industry in Nigeria and West Africa”, he said.

He reiterated the ministry’s determination to develop, project and showcase Nigeria’s tourism endowments. “It is in this wise that we have put together policies and programmes that will make the industry a key priority in the growth of our economy. We are committed to working with the states to develop the tourism sector. Only last week, I hosted the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, who came to seek our partnership in developing tourism in the state.

Alhaji Lai thanked the Executive Governor of Benue State for his sustained interest and support, which he has shown, not only through the donation of this impressive edifice, but also by his presence here today. “It is an incontestable fact that there is a need to move the industry forward, and one way of doing this is to make NIHOTOUR more vibrant and responsive to new challenges”.

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