The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation has said the tourism sector will be driven by youths through Information and Communication Technology, adding that tourism will provide the basis for more sustainable economic development than crude oil.
The NTDC Director General, Folorunso Coker, said this in Abuja on Friday at the grand finale of a national essay competition on tourism, otherwise known as the Youth Tourism Connect.
The essay, which had four winners in the senior and junior categories, was organised by a firm, Desigo Toursim Development and Facility Management Company Limited.
The winners are Ogbaga Thomas from Ebonyi State, who clinched the first position; and Temitope Arowosafe and Bello Sarafadeen, who emerged second and third respectively.
The fourth winner, which is in the junior category, is Rhandy Ken-Iyang.
The NTDC boss, Coker, said Nigeria could climb the “ladder of tourism” into economic development and growth if proper structures were put in place.
He said, “We have eco-tourism, religious and cultural tourism, not to mention the people’s festivals as well as our diverse culture among other tourism opportunities. It is apt and timely that our youth key in now to take advantage of the boundless opportunities that tourism presents.
“I believe in the school of thought which says oil is exhaustible while tourism is sustainable. Tourism is therefore the next alternative to oil and a sure ladder to economic recovery and stability of the country. But this cannot be achieved if our youths are not involved in positively changing the tide of tourism. The NTDC has identified the new mediums of promoting tourism, which is geared towards active youth participation. This rebranding can be promoted and driven through the digital space with the use of computers, phones and other gadgets. We have to then leverage on our youths and sensitise them to be entrepreneurs in tourism. They must be financially independent, which will be better for the country.”
The Managing Director of Desigo Company, Abigail Olagbaye, said, “Our vision and hope is through the Youth Tourism Connect is to engage the minds of Nigeria’s youthful population and largest demography of over 70 million. We want to contribute our quota to curtailing youth restiveness, brain drain and mass exodus of youths abroad.
“Our dream is for the emergence of youths as thought leaders, ambassadors and promoters of Nigeria’s tourism and for them to be at the frontline of awareness advocating for the growth of the industry.”
Other speakers at the event, who motivated youths on investing in the tourism industry, were Mr. Linus Okorie; the President of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Rabo Saleh; and the Director, Domestic Tourism, Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Patricia Narai.