Some tourism stakeholders have expressed divergent opinions on the Federal Government’s proposed plan to be issuing Nigerian visas to inbound tourists on arrival at the nation’s international airports.
Some of the stakeholders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos in separate interviews that the decision would boost the tourism sector.
Others said some foreigners might abuse the policy if not properly monitored by the Federal Government.
They spoke against the backdrop of the announcement made the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed , that Nigeria would collaborate with other African countries to fashion out a policy that would facilitate issuance of visas to foreigners visiting the country for tourism.
The minister announced the proposal during a town hall meeting held in Lagos where six ministers gave accounts of their stewardship saying it was part of plans by his ministry to make tourism one of the mainstreams of our economy .
Mr Olugbenga Adebayo, the Chief Executive Officer of Gadeshire Travels and Tours, called for the collaboration between other agencies and government for the success of the project.
“This is a good decision but the aviation, immigration services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must be involved to ensure that the decision is not truncated after a while,’’ he said.
Mrs Annette Ibe, South-West Zonal Director, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), said that the decision would encourage foreign investors and tourists into Nigeria, thereby boosting the economy of the country.
“This will allow foreign tourists to invest in the country when they come and spend their money here in Nigeria.
“This will help more Nigerians as they will get employed in the process’’, ibe said.
Mr Seun Oreti, Manager of Brightling Travel and Tour Agency said that receiving visas in the host country would speed travel processes thereby improve in -bound tourism.
Oreti applauded the minister’s decision urging him to speed up the process.
“Issuing visas at the host country’s point-of- entry will help hasten travel processes and improve tourism in the country.
“At least, the long queues and the unnecessary waste of time at the embassies will be reduced to the barest minimum,’’ he said.
Mr Donald Uko, the Manager of Providence Travel Agency, however, said that he was not pleased with the idea of issuing visas at the point-of-entry.
Uko said that it was necessary to control the foreigners that would be entering the country under the guise of tourists for security reasons.
“I do not support issuing of visas at the point-of-entry considering that the threats of insecurity going on at large.
“Foreigners should be properly screened by Nigeria’s embassies in those foreign countries before tourists’ visas would be issued to them by the Federal Government on arrival in the country, ’’he said.
Uko also said that issuing visas at the point-of entry would limit the role of embassies of the country from where the people are coming from.
Similarly, Mr Wasiu Babalola, the Managing Director, Swiss International Hospitality Commons (West Africa), said that the Federal Government should make decision reciprocal between countries.
He explained that if a Kenyan could come into the country to pick a Nigerian tourist visa at our point-of-entry, then a Nigerian should be able to pick his or her tourist visa at Kenya’s point- of-entry.
Babalola explained that Nigeria was much endowed with human and natural resources, such that if well harnessed and explored, was capable of advertising Nigeria to the outside world.
“We don’t need to devalue our green card (international passports) to attract tourists into the country. We have everything it takes to attract foreign tourists.
“So let’s work on developing our artifacts, monuments, natural sites like the Idanre Hills, Obudu Cattle ranch and others.
‘“Let’s work on our festivals to be internationally reckoned with.
“ If we do not have jobs for people whom we are attracting into the country, it can increase crime rate and insecurity in the country,’’ Babalola said.
Source : Daily Post