Stakeholders in the aviation and tourism industry have called on the Nigerian Government to leverage on the huge tourism potential in the country to boost job creation and grow the economy.
The stakeholders who spoke at the memorial lecture in honour of the former Managing Director of Pathfinders International Limited, Job Onyeukwu-Onyensu at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, noted that Nigeria is missing among ranked tourism nations in Africa.
According to thenationonlineng.net, Director of Aviation Security, Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Nuah Padmore, who spoke on ‘Safety and Security in African Tourism – Threats, risks and opportunities’ identified 10 countries on the continent that attracted visitors with Nigeria missing on the list.
According to him, while Egypt ranked number one with 13.6 per cent international tourist arrivals, Morocco followed with 12.9 per cent. South Africa had 10.5 per cent; Tunisia had 9.4 per cent, Algeria had 2.6 per cent while Zimbabwe ranked sixth with 2.4 per cent. Others are Mozambique 2.4 per cent; Kenya-1.6per cent; Tanzania-1.5 per cent and Uganda 1.5 per cent.
Padmore spoke during the memorial lecture in honour of the former Managing Director of Pathfinders International Limited, Job Onyeukwu-Onyensu at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
In her welcome address, Managing Director, Pathfinders International Limited, Mrs. Nkechi Onyenso, said aviation plays a critical role in the achievement of growth and sustainable development of any economy.
The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set out 17 specific sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Some of these goals are centered around improving the living conditions and economic prosperity of people all over the globe. She said aviation, as a global player, plays a critical role in supporting these SDGs.
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“The oil of aviation is security because where the passengers do not feel safe to travel by air, they will look for other means of transportation which will reduce the number of people travelling by air and the concomitant benefits of increased passenger turnover.
“Aviation security is a combination of measures, human and material resources put in place in order to safeguard civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference.”
Unlawful interference could be acts of terrorism, sabotage, threat to life and property, communication of false threat, bombing, and others.
“In Pathfinders, we strive to provide excellent aviation security services to our clients covering areas such as aircraft guarding, passenger and baggage profiling, document checks, baggage reconciliation, counter control, cargo security and catering escort security to mention a few. We have done this for over three decades and have a culture of continuous improvement even as we keep to our motto of – Trusted Service. We know that where the passengers not only feel safe but are safe, they will travel by air for business, trade and tourism.
“Aviation can therefore be said to be an enabler of tourism. It is estimated that 58% (according to Air Transport Action Group Report ATAG 2020) of all international tourists travel to their destinations by air. Air transport allows people to have adventures in new countries, to relax on tropical beaches, to build business relationships and to visit friends and family.
According to the economic impact research conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) in 2019, Travel & Tourism (including its direct, indirect and induced impacts) accounted for one in four of all new jobs created between 2014 – 2019 across the world, 10.3per cent of all jobs (333 million), and 10.3 per cent of global GDP ($9.6 trillion),” Onyenso said.
According to her, a review of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual report for 2018 on the activities of the Nigeria aviation sector, as published in the IATA annual review journal (IATA Economics) and its official website showed that aviation stakeholders such as airlines, airport operators, airport on-site enterprises (restaurants and retail), aircraft manufacturers, and air navigation service providers employed about 20,000 people into the Nigeria labour market. Also, by buying goods and services from local suppliers the sector supported another 35,000 jobs.
Also, foreign tourists arriving by air into Nigeria, who spend their money in the local economy, are estimated to have supported an additional 169,000 jobs. In total about 241,000 jobs were supported by air transport and tourists arriving by air.
The air transport industry, including airlines and its supply chain, are estimated to support $600 million of the total value of goods and services produced Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Nigeria in the period under review.
She said in an earlier study in 2018, IATA projected that the air transport business in Nigeria will grow by 174per cent in 20 years’ time. This would result in an additional 9.4 billion passenger journeys by 2037. If these estimates are met and achieved, the increased demand would support approximately $4.7 billion of GDP and create almost 555,700 jobs for the local Nigeria economy (IATA 20-year passenger forecast October 2018).
Also speaking on the occasion, Regional Manager, Qatar Airways, Percival Uweche, said there are opportunities tied to tourism. For instance, Calabar and many other states in the country are sitting on gold mines but they are not doing anything about it, but focusing on oil revenue.
“In 2019, Ghana made millions of dollars in tourism. Benin Republic generates over $240.86 million in tourism in 2019. Egypt occupies number one in Africa tourist destinations and no data from Nigeria.
“Government must generate the will that it wants the tourism industry to work, succeed in the country because a lot of people pay lip service to these things. Some individuals are pushing loving Lagos, Lagos state is doing its part too in growing tourism however, they need to do more; you encourage the influx of people, the number adds up at the end of the day. It trickled down to even the villages such as the local portrait, bead makers.
Founder, Akwaaba African Travel Markets, Mr Ikechi Uko, urged the government to do more in mitigating the security and safety challenges in the country to encourage tourists.
“Tourism will grow once you apply the right tools. The challenges will always be there because we have realised that that is not disincentive for people not traveling. For instance, the Middle East has more violence than anywhere else in the world but they attract more tourists than countries without violence because they do a lot of marketing, they do a lot of promotion, and the mitigation tools they put in place. So the government must support it because they make the policy,” Uko said.