By Stephen Ubanna
Until his resignation as the immediate past minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state had given an insight into the huge potentials of maritime tourism and the need for investors to cash in on it.
According to the World Trade Organisation, WTO, ‘’maritime tourism is a sector of the tourism industry that is based on tourists and visitors taking part in active and passive leisure and holiday pursuits or journeys on or in coastal waters, their shorelines and their immediate hinterlands’’.
Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, had said that Research shows that ‘’the oceans economy is worth about $20 trillion which include fishing, pharmaceuticals and the renewable energy industries’’.
The NIMASA Director General, may have been encouraged him to pursue for the development of maritime tourism in Nigeria as obtained in Europe and other parts of the world where he has visited over the last three years as the Director General of NIMASA, in order to benefit from the huge potentials in terms of job creation and revenue generation.
The NIMASA Chief Executive Officer, CEO, was said to have called for a ‘’Collaboration between Institute of tourism and Professionals of Nigeria, ITPN, and the maritime sectors in Nigeria ‘’to reap from the huge potentials in maritime tourism’’. He noted that with ‘’the enormous resources inherent in the nation’s maritime sector, the country’s tourism industry will be easy and low hanging fruit for the country’s economic agenda’’.
The NIMASA helmsman may have taken advantage of the 6th National Tourism Transportation Summit and Expo, organised ITPN, in Collaboration with the ministries of Transportation, Aviation , Information and Culture at the International Conference center, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory to speak out.
The Summit, which the Organisers had said was aimed at ‘’discovering and exploring the opportunities in Nigeria tourism sector’’, with a theme ‘’AFCFTA: Extra-African Trade,’’ Tourism and Transportation Opportunities and Mitigating the Borders to Collaboration’’, appears to have created the desired awareness.
The NIMASA boss was said to have spoken on ‘’Tourism and the Development of Nigeria’s Blue Economy’’. He may have gladdened the heart of participants when he declared that ‘’investment must not necessarily involve huge materials and human capital’’ , but noted that Small and Medium Scale, SMS, businesses was also possible ‘’to generate the amount of jobs and economic benefits associated with the tourism sector as obtained in other parts of the world’’.
Hear him: I must acknowledge that tourism is one sector that Nigeria is doing very well but unfortunately, the marine tourism component is one area where the country is currently lagging behind when compared with other economies across the world.
It was not surprising why he commended the organisers of the tourism symposium which had given him the opportunity to speak out on maritime tourism and why investors, both local and foreign should invest in it.
According to him ‘’a well-managed tourism sector would go a long way to support the government conservation policy while contributing to sustainable development of the economy and providing income opportunities and higher standard of living for many’’.
Edward Osagie, an Assistant Director and spokesperson of NIMASA, had said that the Director General, also took a sweep at the relationship between the maritime regulatory agency maritime potentials and tourism, in his presentation to the applause of the participants.
He was said to have given an insight to the agency ‘’maritime safety and security’’, which many believe was sacrosanct for marine tourism development’’, resulting in the current Management committing huge resources to it.
He had made a bold statement when he said that ‘’there was need for industry stakeholders to support all engagement’s and policy statements of the government on conservation of Nigerian biodiversity , maritime ecosystem and other endowments , which are valuable assets for marine asset development’’.
He may have impressed the participants at the tourism Symposium when he outlined the benefits that could be achieved from maritime tourism with security guarantees’’, stressing that this could only be achievable by ’’closing all the existing gaps and linking associated cities through building infrastructure while the bodies of water between them are used for ‘’tourist attraction’’.
As a prelude to ensuring a successful development of the nation’s maritime tourism development, the well- travelled NIMASA Director General, to different parts of the world, described as a ‘’practical Administrator’’ and who has seen the development of marine tourism in all the countries visited was said to have also called for ‘’proactive measures’’ that would prevent pollution of marine and fresh water resources, soil and land resources, desertification, and salinification due to excessive water use and over use of fertilizers, including erosion, air pollution, loss of cultural resources and social disruption’’.
The NIMASA boss has every reason to woo participants at the tourism symposium and urging not worry about security in Nigerian waters and he Gulf of Guinea, because President Muhammadu had spent $195 million to procure maritime security assets comprising of 16 armoured vehicles, for coastal patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, Two Special Mission Vessels, Two Special Mission aircrafts, three helicopters and four unmanned Aerial vehicles , which was delivered to the agency by HLSI Systems and Technologies Limited, an Israeli security firm between 2020 and 2022.
Given an insider information about the huge potentials in maritime tourism may have encouraged the NIMASA Director General, to call on the ITPN, other relevant agencies involved in Tourism development to Collaborate with the agency in implementing a strategy that would increase growth and jobs in the nation’s maritime tourism sector.
He may have drawn example by what is happening in the member countries of the European Union, EU, Where ‘’the beauty , cultural health and diversity of the region’s coastal areas had made them a preferred destination for many stakeholders in Europe and other countries across the world, thus making coastal and maritime tourism and important tourism sector.
Employing over 3.2 million people which represents over one third of the European maritime economy which include fishing, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy industries’’. This according to tourism experts was as much as 51 % of bed capacity in hotels across Europe is concentrated in regions with a sea border.
There is no saying the fact that with the steps taken by Jamoh, the NIMASA ,Director General, to raise people’s Consciousness on the Blue Economy which is lubricating the Europe economy which currently generates a gross value added of about $544 billion yearly, is expected to experience further growth this 2023, Fiscal year and beyond ‘’to create more jobs in coastal and maritime tourism’’.