Tourism, catalyst to economic growth- SKAL President

The Federal Government has been urged to pay more attention to the tourism sector of the country as it has the capacity to transform the economy.

Making the call in Lagos during SKAL International Day which held at Lufasi Nature Park along Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, President, SKAL International Lagos, Mrs. Rita Ofure Obidike said that with the right type of support from the government, tourism could provide jobs for millions of Nigerians.

Skål is a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship. It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry. Its members, the industry’s managers and executives, meet at local, national, regional and international levels to do business Among Friends.

The first Club was founded in 1932 in Paris by travel managers, following an educational tour of Scandinavia. The idea of international goodwill and friendship grew and, in 1934, the “Association Internationale des Skål Clubs” was formed with Florimond Volckaert as its first President, who is considered the “Father of Skål”.

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Skål International today has approximately 15,000 members in 400 Clubs throughout  over 90 countries. Most activities occur at local level, moving up through National Committees, under the umbrella of Skål International, headquartered at the General Secretariat in Torremolinos, Spain.

Skål International is governed by an Executive Committee of six members, elected by delegates to an annual General Assembly, held during the World Congress, hosted by a different country each year. This allows members first-hand observation of the travel and tourism potential around the world.

 

She however expressed happiness that state governments are beginning to give tourism the needed assistance because of sudden realisation that it is a money spinning venture if well harnessed. She lamented that most of the problems arose because they were not partnering with the right people.

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“The tourism industry needs to have some more attention from the government. The Federal Government and some state governments have started to give tourism the needed attention.  It is a good development and we are ready to partner with them.  Most of the problems come because they are not partnering with the right people. If they put people in the right strategic places, I bet you, they will go far. If they partner with us, I think tourism will go a much higher like huge employment and help to boost our image”.

Obidike who is also Managing Director of Discovery Travel & Tours Limited disclosed that Nigeria has good and rich tourism destinations that are far better than what he has seen in many parts of the world.

She specifically cited India and Kenya as two countries that do not have huge tourism sites like Nigeria. She lamented that lack of development and marketing of the sites have robbed the country of huge foreign exchange.

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“That is why I said government should partner with us by organising a trip to Obudu and many others. Thank God we a strong national body that they can come through. I was in India last year and am going to Mombasa this year. What I saw are not better than what we have here. We need to encourage local tourism in Nigeria”.

“People are going all over the world, they don’t know Nigeria. It is a shame. We pray that they would be faster evolution in the whole of this. We know the huge mileage and income tourism can bring to any nation”, she added.

Wole Shadare