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President Jonathan
The Federal Government, on Tuesday in London, disclosed that a data collection initiative aimed at enhancing and boosting tourism growth in the country through the use of accurate statistical gathering mechanism towards the repositioning of the sector is underway.

The disclosure was made by the Minister of Tourism and National Orientation, Mr. Abubakar Sadiq Muhammed, at an interactive session with journalists at the on-going World Travel Market (WTM) Conference, which opened in Excel, London, on Monday.

Specifically, he said one of the major challenges militating against the growth of tourism development in the country remained the absence of accurate data for would-be investors in the tourism sector of the economy.

The absence of accurate data, according to the minister, was responsible for the stunted growth of the sector. This, he said, scare away potential investors from investing in the vast tourism industry in the country, because such investments can never be guaranteed with the absence of accurate data. In this regard, the minister said his ministry, in conjunction with the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC), has trained a couple of data analysts to help develop the data needs of the tourism industry in Nigeria to a world class standard.

Besides, Muhammed lamented that data collection, gathering and analyses remained the sole role of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which he said was not really providing the ministry and NTDC with the required data needed for the growth of the tourism industry, hence the need for the ministry and NTDC to develop its own set of data analysts. The minister also lauded the initiative of the federal government for seeing the need to give tourism development the required support needed, adding that government has started seeing the need to develop tourism as a means of economic development.

'Despite the challenges, we want to begin to see the need to develop tourism for it to attract the desired attention from the private sector and government. I want to commend the effort of NTDC by being able to carry along all stakeholders towards the drive to reposition the tourism sector,' he stated.

The minister maintained that the country will continue to attend exhibitions like WTM around the world in order to attract the needed tourism investment to the country, while also showcasing the rich cultural heritage, adding that tourism was capable of boosting Gross Domestic Product and generating lots of employment opportunities for the teeming populace.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Director General of NTDC, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, explained that tourism remained a money spinner for the country if well harness and explored, saying that one day oil would dry up, and tourism would take its place.

Runsewe lauded the ministers efforts in his drive to increase its space from 75 square meter it acquired last year to a more spacious space of 90 square meter this year, saying the Nigeria pavilion remained the only one story building in the whole of the African pavilion.