The Federal Government says 2186 companies employing 12,117 individuals have benefitted from its N75 billion Survival Fund for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Monday in Makurdi at the formal take-off of the North-Centh Zonal Headquarters of National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR).
It was reported the Campus was handed over to the Ministry of Information and Culture on behalf of NIHOTOUR by the Benue State Government.
Speaking at the ceremony, the minister said the Federal Government had done a lot to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially as it affects the Creative and Tourism sector.
He said Travel, Hospitality, Tourism and other related services had over one million private establishments employing over 9.8 million persons in the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory.
The minister said the industry contributed about 4.8 per cent to total national output (GDP) and utilised about 1.6 per xent of Nigerians in the year 2016.
“In addition, according to PricewaterhouseCooper’s 2019 hospitality report, the Nigerian hospitality industry is expected to grow by 12 per cent yearly till 2023, making it one of the fastest growing markets.
“That is until the world encountered a hurdle by the name COVID-19,” he said.
Mohammed said the Federal Government would continue to do everything possible to encourage tourism development in Nigeria, due to its tremendous benefits.
Speaking on the project, the minister said it was coming at a time when globally, tourism is assuming its pride of place as a major catalyst for economic growth.
He noted that one of the prerequisites for tourism development was availability of well-trained personnel.
“This forms the basis for the Federal Government’s decision to have a specialised training institution for the hospitality and tourism industry in Nigeria, which culminated in the establishment of NIHOTOUR.
“It is our belief that no amount of investments in either infrastructure or in expanding tourism capacity in Nigeria will ever be successful unless the necessary manpower in the required numbers and at the required levels of knowledge and skills are provided to manage the sector.
“This is why we are committed to seeing NIHOTOUR achieve its mandate in this respect,” he said.
The minister assured that Benue and the country in general will benefit from the great export earning capacity, employment generation and wealth redistribution from the project.
He thanked Gov. Samuel Ortom for fulfilling the promise of donating an edifice to the institute, adding that it showed the state’s commitment to the growth of the hospitality and tourism sector.
Mohammed reiterated his ministry’s determination to develop, project and showcase Nigeria’s tourism endowment.
The Governor, represented by his Deputy, Benson Abounu, thanked the Federal Government and the Minister for giving Benue the opportunity to host the institution on behalf of the North-Central zone.
He said the hospitality and tourism sector had become the area of focus for developed and developing countries, from which Nigeria must take opportunity of diversifying its economy.
He said that apart from being the food basket of the nation, Benue had abundant tourism potential to create jobs for the youths and boost the state’s economy.
He recalled that the project which was conceived in 2015 and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2016, was completed in January though delayed for handing over due to COVID-19.
The governor called on other North Central states to take the advantage of the courses available in the school.
On his part, NIHOTOUR Direcor-General, Alh. Nura Kangiwa, said the institution would offer 14 specialised Certificate and Diploma Courses in Hospitality ND Tourism sector.
He thanked the state for its support in realising the project, with a call on the governor to produce Tourism Master Plan for the state.