A number of investors from the United Arab Emirates have indicated interest to invest in the Nigerian tourism sector.
The investors who met with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), said Nigeria had the full potential in the tourism sector which they were willing to explore.
The meeting was on the sideline of the “International Conference for the Safeguard of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas’’ attended by the minister in Abu Dhabi.
The meeting was coordinated by Nura Rimi, the Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Nigeria in UAE, Abu Dhabi.
Speaking after the meeting, Mohammed Hamadi, a reknown sectorial investor and Consultant, who has business concern across the globe, said that Nigeria had a lot of investment opportunities, being the largest country in Africa in terms of population.
“Generally speaking, tourism is one of the industries that I see blinking in the light of Nigeria and we are ready to add a lot to the Nigerian tourism sector. Nigeria and the Gulf countries are sharing the same similarity with the dependency on oil resource and we need to diversify inevitably to other resources,’’ Hamadi said.
He said he would be leading a team of investors to Nigeria between April and May 2017 to explore areas of opportunities in the tourism sector.
Specifically, Hamadi said the team would explore opportunities in the natural, cultural and business potentials in the tourism sector.
“Nigeria has a lot of natural and cultural endowments, therefore, natural and cultural tourism is one of the options we are considering.
Cultural tourism is a viable area especially in some cities like Lagos, Kano and other cities where you have cultural touch base.
Business tourism is another area we are interested in because Nigeria is a country where a lot of people move from North to South.
When I traveled to Nigeria, I noticed that every half an hour we see people moving particularly to Lagos and Abuja.
All of these people need different places to stay and hotel and relaxation centres in different categories will also be our interest,’’ he said.
Daniel Weihrouh, a German whose tourism business, Lions and Gazelles, is based in Abu Dhabi, said his company was ready “to ignite tourism in Nigeria’’.
“Our long time ambition is for the Europeans and Americans, rather than going to Kenya for Safari, they should go to Calabar for the Carnival and to Lagos for the nightlife,” he said.
Weihrouh said the company had planned to start with domestic tourism to attract the attention of the people to the potential in the sector.
“To get started with this, we have to start domestically to celebrate the tourism potential in the country. After we start domestically, we will go pan African and look at the neighbouring countries, Cameroon, Ghana and Benin Republic. Instead of them going to South Africa, they can come to Nigeria,’’ he said.
To connect with the vision, he said the Federal Government must carry the states and relevant stakeholders along in the process.
He said that because of the size of the country and its diversity, there could be the challenge to bring the stakeholders together to move in the same direction.
On infrastructure deficit, the investor said that they were ready to work on what the country had on ground, stressing that “it is not about resources but to be resourceful’’.
The minister assured the investors of the cooperation of government stressing that tourism had been identified in the Administration’s diversification agenda.
“These are investors who open up tourism development centres all over the world and they are interested in new tourism access all over the world.
We will be interested to look into possibilities of partnering with them in Nigeria.
We believe that with 170 million people a diversity of culture, domestic tourism can thrive in Nigeria and create more jobs.
Domestic tourism is always the first step to international tourism,’’ he said.
The minister said the government would look forward to receiving them in the country.