• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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World Tourism Day: Stakeholders want investments in underdeveloped 853km coastline

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Concerned stakeholders in the Nigerian tourism and hospitality sector have called on the government to encourage investments in the country’s untapped coastline.

They said the country was losing over N20 billion annually from the underdeveloped 853-kilometre coastline across seven coastal states.

Speaking in their appraisal of the tourism industry in commemoration of World Tourism Day, marked annually on September 27, the stakeholders said tourism could lift the country from its present economic predicament if given priority.

“If we develop up to half of our coastline and utilise them for tourism and hospitality purposes, Nigeria will be earning sustained revenue from taxes paid by hospitality companies, entertainment outfits, water transportation, marine companies, tour companies, travel agencies among others that operate on the coastline,” Francis Ujiri, a tour operator said.

According to the Ikeja Lagos-based tour operator, the unfriendly business environment, multiple taxation and especially insecurity across the coastline, have made investors to shy away from the goldmine.

While commending Lagos State for having the most developed coastline among the seven coastal states in the country, especially with the ambitious Eko Atlantic City project, Ujiri, a private beach resort owner, regretted that Lagos loses billions of naira annually from the underdeveloped coastline, which stretches 180 kilometres.

Read also: World Tourism Day 2023: Edo rallies stakeholders on heritage promotion, protection policy to drive sector growth

“The stretch of the Lagoon along the Ozumba Mbadiwe Road in Victoria Island to Lekki Phase 1 and across to Awolowo Road in Ikoyi was designated a tourism zone by Frank Adejuwan, former commissioner of home affairs Lagos State and chairman, technical committee on the implementation of Nigerian Tourism Masterplan, under Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, to grow a tourism cluster in Lagos. But more non-tourism and hospitality businesses have taken over and reduced the impact. Ilashe and other nearby islands are not fully utilised for tourism. Lagos can do more in terms of security and enabling laws to encourage more investments along its coastline,” Aderemi Fadahunsi, a retiree of Lagos ministry of tourism, arts and culture, said.

Speaking from an investor’s perspective, Wanle Akinboboye, president, La Campagne Tropicana Resort, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, noted that Nigeria’s coastline is hugely untapped despite being a goldmine that the country could use to boost revenue generation from the non-oil sector.

According to him, Lagos coastline with its mild features that enable beach outings could contribute over N7 billion annually to Lagos State through taxes from hotels, restaurants, resorts and related businesses along the coastline.

The hospitality investor, who has operated a successful beach resort along the Lekki corridor of the Lagos coastline, for over two decades now, noted that the state and the country at large can earn more if the government encourages more tourism investments across the coastline with a friendly business environment.

Ubong Edem, hotelier and beach operator at Ibeno, a coastal town in Akwa Ibom State, noted that the beach and the stretch of coastline in the state are underdeveloped and could enhance the state’s status as a tourism destination if developed.

“Considering the job and wealth creation potential, curbing of crime and additional revenue to the monthly federal allocation, the new governor should encourage investments in the coastline to complement the Ibaka Seaport project,” Edem said.

According to him, the south-south geopolitical zone can leverage tourism to grow its economy away from the over-dependence on crude oil.

“In south-south, we have many beaches but more are abandoned to oil spillage. We can reclaim the beaches that once served as militia camps, and create creek tourism out of them. After all, Brazil has ghetto tourism and it is thriving,” Edem said.

Beyond tourism purposes, the coastline also facilitates business.

It would be recalled that Dakuku Peterside, former director general, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), while in office, urged for judicious utilization of the country’s 853km coastline and about 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone to facilitate trade in the West African sub-region.