The Olota of Ota in Ogun, Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege, on Tuesday urged Nigerians to explore tourism potentialities in the country for job creation.

Mr Obalanlege made the call at the annual seminar of the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism, ANJET, held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The theme of the seminar is entitled: “Tourism and Jobs: Better Future for All”.

He advised Nigerians to be creative by grooming the country’s enormous tourism potential instead of depending on government for job creation.

According to him, festivals in each community can be developed by members of such communities to generate revenue, while ensuring that such events are developed to attract local and international tourists.

Mr Obalanlege identified the Egungun (masquerade) Festival as one of the tourism potentialities to latch on, while monumental buildings across communities could be converted to tourists’ sites.

The royal father said “with the huge tourism potential we are blessed with in the country, we should not be complaining about lack of jobs; individuals must be creative and tap into these tourism potentialities.

“The egungun festival is an opportunity to latch on by the unemployed; different communities have their masquerades, which should be developed and showcased to the world.

“Nigerians need not look up to the government for job creation; government is only meant to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“The second tallest storey building in Nigeria is in Ota; it should be better developed to attract international tourists; a lot more monumental buildings across communities can also be converted to tourists sites.”

Earlier, Dr Gbenga Olowo, Managing Director, Sabre Network West Africa, urged government to take the tourism industry seriously by earmarking sufficient budgetary allocation for the sector.

Mr Olowo, who was represented by Mayowa Badewa, a Deputy Director of Sabre Travel Network, said that the tourism industry must be prioritised, as huge employment opportunities could be derived from the sector.

He noted that other African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Gambia were doing well in tourism because they had been able to work on improved connectivity, good infrastructure, visa relaxation policy and more.

Mr Olowo, however, urged government to collaborate with the private sector and intensify efforts in fighting security and terrorism, create policy for ease of doing business, provide good and safe roads for tourism businesses to thrive in Nigeria.

“We are known to be the giant of Africa, and Nigeria is not recorded in the list of the top 10 visited countries in Africa, because we are not doing things correctly.

“Government should try to allocate huge revenue for the tourism industry annually, because the returns will be in multiples at the end of the day.

“There are only two hanging lakes in the world, the one at Colorado, United States of America and the Ado Awaye hanging lake in Oyo State, which is not well-marketed for international recognition.

“The one in Colorado generates over a million visitors annually; we must let the world know what we have and encourage them to visit,” Mr Olowo said.