A Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Ekiti State University Ado Ekiti, Prof. Funso Isolaowa Afolabi, says tourism has a major role to play in the development of the country’s economy.
Prof. Afolabi stated that Nigeria could have been a prosperous nation-state, if huge investments had been deployed by federal government in tourism and hospitality businesses.
The academic spoke on Friday at EKSU while delivering the 54th inaugural lecture of the university on the topic: ‘ Tourism Entrepreneurship: Putting Profit After Suitable Location and Sustainable Hotel Operations’.
He warned the Federal Government against over reliance on oil earning that it may dry up some day, saying the country’s economy stands the chance of being ruined, with decline in daily crude production due to the drying off of oil wells without commensurate efforts to diversify the economy.
He expressed fear that the future of the country is gravely endangered, with her monolithic economy resting solely on crude oil proceeds for survival.
Prof. Afolabi appealed to the Federal Government to make a paradigm shift from monolithic economy and diversify it by investing in tourism which he said has the potential for to improve the nation’s economy.
He said : “The Federal Government is not doing enough to diversify the economy away from oil. I don’t know what Nigeria will become when this oil dries off. We have to plan ahead and I don’t think it was right for us to have neglected other sector like tourism, this is sad.
“Nigeria has the potentials to replacing oil with tourism so we should not fold our hands. If our oil dries, what are we going to do. This is why we are recommending that tourism should take over from oil. This we can do with strategic thinking”.
The academic appealed to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to also give financial support to run the business, the way it has been doing in other sectors of the economy.
He urged the National Universities Commission (NUC) not to delay further in overhauling the curriculum taught to students in all universities, saying students as prospective wealth creators should not be half baked.
“Entrepreneurs and employees are the lifebloods of of any tourism and hospitality operation, with them ill-prepared and ill-motivated, that aspect of the economy will stand still.
“Most of the courses that ought to introduce students to see hospitality and Tourism as real businesses are not taught and entrepreneurial success and likely failure theories that can make learners appreciate realities more meaningfully are not in place.
“Even in most of the Universities, entrepreneurial courses are not well taught due to underfunding. The need for operators to respect the culture, traditions and way of lives of customers must be introduced into the curriculum,” he added.