He urged the government to diversify and invest in tourism, which he said had the potential to replace oil.
The professor of Geography, who spoke at EKSU in his inaugural address, entitled, ‘Tourism entrepreneurship: Putting profit after suitable location and sustainable hotel operation’, advised the Federal Government to take a cue from countries of the world which prioritised development of tourism.
He cited the Caribbean and Pacific countries as well as Kenya where tourism ranked first apart from industries and agriculture to buttress his assertion.
Afolabi said, “Nigeria has the potential to replace oil with tourism. We should not fold our hands. If our oil dries up, 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 said the country’s economy stood the chance of being ruined with gradual slump in crude oil prices at the international market and decline in daily crude production due to the drying up of oil wells without commensurate efforts to diversify to tourism.
He also urged the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria to give financial support to investments in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Afolabi said SMEDAN should “extend the assistance it had been rendering to other sectors of the economy to the tourism and hospitality industry in view of its vast potential to grow the nation’s economy, especially in view of its capacity to replace oil.”
Afolabi, who specialises in recreation and tourism management, added that Nigeria could have been a better and more prosperous nation if huge investments had been deployed by Federal Government in tourism and hospitality business.
According to him, 94 per cent of total beauty of the world is derived from tourism and that it creates 94 per cent of the happiness in the world.
@ Punch Newspaper