By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has said the annual “Abuja Carnival’’ should be private sector-driven to further boost its revenue.
FTAN’s President, Chief Tomi Akingbogun, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja said it would also make the capital city, a tourism destination of choice.
“As it is now, the Abuja Carnival does not have the capacity to attract visitors, because it is in the hands of government; government is not supposed to compete with the private sector.
“Abuja carnival should be given to the private sector that will pay the government, and then drive it to attract millions of visitors and tourists.
“It may, however, take a long time to achieve this because they have killed it; if they had given it to the private sector from the beginning, it could have grown bigger.’’
He said that the carnival has no positive impact and it would take time to pick up.
“It can still be done if the private sector can take it over,’’ Akingbogun said.
Akingbogun told NAN that what the authorities needed to do in Abuja is to put in place regular leisure activities to attract visitors to the scenic city.
“FCT’s Hospitality and Tourism industry is suffering because there are no destinations for people to come, and conferences and events are not coming to Abuja.’’
The entrepreneur stressed that the only way to attract tourists from within and outside the country to the FCT, is through the building of requisite leisure infrastructure.
On the suitability of the Jabi Lake, the FTAN boss urged the Minister of the FCT to consider the possibility of transforming the water front into a thriving tourism resort.
“The Jabi Lake is still in the hand of Parks and Recreation of the FCT, which is still under the power and control of the minister.
“We understand that there are several issues of double allocation; individuals have been given plots to build private houses on what should be classified as world tourism zone.
“If allocation has been given for over 15 years, the minister has the power to take back the land via legal means or compensation, and re-allocate it for tourism purpose.’’
The association, he said, was are asking the minister of FCT to consider the revocation of land allocated at the water front, and transform the place to world tourism zone.
“If transformed to a tourism zone, the Jabi Lake water front can generate millions of dollars to the government in form of revenue, from visitors and tourists,’’ Akingbogun said.
He noted that during festive period, people usually gathered around Jabi Lake without any form of entertainment or crowd control.
Akingbogun told NAN that people just created their own form of fun, to entertain themselves, noting that he played guitar to entertain fun seekers during the New Year celebration at the lake.
“While I was taking pictures there, I observed that the place was very dirty; it was unkempt and there is an area with a large volume of waste that was uncollected.
“Jabi Lake is a gold mine; we are calling on the FCT minister to look into the tourism opportunity at the lake’s water front,’’ Akingbogun said.
The FTAN president who spoke on his recent visit to the Gambian Tourism Zone said no buildings or structures were allowed at around the water front.