By Ignatius Ushie
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr, Dakuku Peterside has called for synergy between the transport and tourism sectors. The call was contained in a keynote address presented at the first National Tourism Transport Summit and Expo in Abuja.    
According to the DG,” The Nigerian economy has for a long time been highly dependent on crude oil, which he said is a danger to the economy of the country, not only because of the volatility of commodity price but more present danger of diminishing demand as a result of the discovery of alternative energy sources by world’s major users”.
Using the Dubai model, the DG noted that the travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with global economic contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of over 7.6 trillion US dollars alone in 2016.
Peterside said other countries of the world with similar situations like Nigeria have keyed into these sectors and already achieving great feats. “The United Arab Emirates have used transport and tourism to diversify their economy.
In 2016, tourists spent over $31Billion in Dubai alone, which is the highest amount spent by tourists in a single city anywhere in the world.
“Emirate airlines carried a total of 51.9 million passengers with revenue in excess of $23.2 billion in 2016/2017 financial year. Today, UAE is earning more foreign exchange from tourism than from their oil and Gas industry. It is possible for the same feat to be achieved in Nigeria”, the DG said.
Speaking further, Dakuku noted that, the Maritime industry also presents great opportunity for an economic rebirth if its potentials of Blue economy is properly unleashed,  adding that, Nigeria whose coastline spans over 850km namely: Mineral Resources, food, Energy, Sea transport and tourism, of all these, the DG said water transportation and tourism are the least tapped even as there present a better outlook for economic diversification.
“Maritime transport worldwide has been and still remains a very important catalyst for economic development of coastal states while supporting the development and growth of tourism. Cruise ships are major suppliers of tourists all over the world and Nigeria cannot be different if we do the right thing.
“International Cargo vessels and Ocean going vessels are other benefits that the country stands to benefit hence over 5000 ocean going vessels  berth in Nigeria annually. Each of these vessels come in with an average of 15 crew members who are potential tourists. Most of the Seafarers disembark from their vessels to unwind from their sea journey, visits good restaurants and hotels and other interesting tourist attractions within town”.
The DG said in developing tourism and transport industry, the watchword should be sustainability, adding that the task must not be left for the government alone, but can be achieved through a collaborative effort and share responsibility between government, private organisations and citizenry. “We must create awareness in the country of the importance of the Seas and Oceans to our lives and the economy at large,” the DG said.

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