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  jos Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) disclosed that according to the report of border survey conducted recently by her agency, 4,037,808 inbound tourists visited Nigeria in 2013 spending $649.47 million. This was compared by the World Bank to the 1,414,000 tourist arrivals recorded in 2009, the year Nigeria’s border survey was last calculated, and findings show that the new figure represents a 185% increase in tourism arrivals for 2013. Mbanefo made this known in a presentation which she gave on a two-day tourism investors’ forum and exhibition held in Abuja titled, “Promoting Domestic Tourism: Tool for National Economic Development.” She said that tourism in Nigeria contributed so much to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but little is attributed to its impact in Nigeria’s economic growth. She made it known then that tourism is the next alternative to oil and gas revenue generation. According to the most recent data by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), she said that it reflected that current global tourism contributions to GDP are approaching $7 trillion, accounting for 9.3% of the global GDP. It also shows that the industry accounts for 8.7 of global employment with an estimated yearly growth rate of 2.4%. Picking out the tourism drift in Nigeria, Mrs. Mbanefo said that domestic tourism is the higher income gainer and that religious tourism alone generated over a million domestic tourists in 2013. According to her, the Osun Osogbo festival recorded 21,713 domestic tourists including 123 international tourists with an expenditure of N58.23 million, while Abuja Carnival recorded 19,015 domestic tourists and a substantial number of international tourists. Chief Samuel Alabi, FTAN Board of Trustees Chairman, advised the government to create a special intervention fund through the Central Bank of Nigeria to be accessed by operators in the tourism sector or to set up a Tourism Development Bank to provide credit facility for the industry operators. He also advised that the government should take data capturing of the tourism sector seriously.

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This article was first published on 16th June 2014

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