By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
An entrepreneur , Ms Abigail Olagbaye, has urged the Federal Government to work with Nigerian youths in the development of the nation’s tourism sector.
Olagbaye made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
“A youth today can become the minister of tourism or director-general of a tourism corporation tomorrow. The young people in Nigeria are the largest demography of over 70 million.
“I, therefore, urge the Federal Government to carry the youth along in its different policies and programmes relating to the development of tourism in the country.
“However, with the undeniable recognition of youths as agents of social change and innovation by the United Nations, Nigeria cannot afford to exclude, ignore or leave them behind in the development and growth of tourism.
“The youth population in Nigeria is a multi-billion naira market segment and it should be explored for tourism development. I believe Nigeria can tap from their energy, passion and innovations.
“Our youths are creative, intelligent, passionate and hungry for growth and new things and can bring phenomenal and compelling changes to the sector through their ideas and perspectives,” she said.
Olagbaye, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Desigo Tourism Development and Facility Management Company, said the vision of the outfit was to encourage the youth into tourism with its ‘Youth Tourism Connect’ programme.
She maintained that when the youth were engaged in the sector, their restiveness, brain drain and mass exodus abroad would be curtailed.
“They will see the benefits and opportunities in the country’s tourism sector and get the platform to access empowerment and contribute optimally to its development.
“It will also propel them to imbibe national pride, patriotism, a sense of belonging and ownership of our abundant natural and cultural heritage for national development.
“Our dream at Desigo is for the emergence of youths as leaders of thought, ambassadors and promoters of Nigeria’s tourism development,” she said.
On the recent Youth Tourism Connect Essay Writing Competition, Olagbaye said the essence was to make a statement that the youth have a lot to offer to the tourism industry in the country.
She noted that it would not be appropriate to leave them behind or ignore what they had inside in terms of tourism.
“We want to help them look inwards, into themselves, into their communities and become proud that their country is blessed with tourism resources.
“Not just blessed but that the country is doing so much to develop its tourism industry.
“The competition is the maiden edition, however, we are going to reach out to more youths and organisations in the next edition because we need more support, partnership and sponsorship,” Olagbaye said.
NAN reports that the essay writing is for youths to write on how tourism can be used to enhance national development.
Three winners emerged in the senior category and one winner in the junior, from more than 370,000 entries nationwide. (NAN)