Nigerian youth have been urged to embrace tourism because it is big business. This is was the clarion call from the organisers and eminent personalities that graced the 8th edition of Youth Tourism and Hospitality Leaders Forum at Jogor Center, Ibadan last week.

Speaker after speaker stimulated the audience of about 250 delegates on the prime place tourism would play in the social, cultural and economic life of the country in the coming years.

The event witnessed a full hall of young people from all walks of life, students from tertiary institutions, tourism practitioners, the academics and the media. Scholarly papers were presented by Dr. Raphael Alabi, Coordinator Tourism and Development Programme, University of Ibadan and Ibraheem Kukoyi, Department of Hospitality and Tourism, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.

R-L: The convener, Youth Tourism & Hospitality Leaders Forum presenting an award to CEO, Jemi Alade Tours, Mr. Jemi Alade at the forum held in Ibadan recently

In his opening address, the convener, Omololu Olumuyiwa charged the audience on the imperative of for the younger generation to wake up to the realities of great opportunities that abound in the tourism and hospitality industry.

“We now live in a global village in which the travel, tourism and hospitality industry daily assumes greater importance both as key economic industry, as it is today the greatest creator and employer of labour and catering as a major source of revenue earner for many countries”, Omololu explained.

Yemi Alade asserted that tourism is big business. Alade is one of the foremost tour operators within the industry who is in the forefront of stimulating and packaging inbound tourism for audiences from in Asia and other countries into Nigeria. He is the Managing Director of Jemi-Alade Tours.

L-R: The Sales Manager, Kenya Airways, Mr Abiola Bakare with Miss Face of Fashion Culture Africa, Queen Eniola Christabel, Convener, Youth Tourism & Hospitality Leaders Forum, Omololu Olumuyiwa and Miss Tourism Ogun State, Queen Gift Nwakwo shortly after the presentation of gifts from Kenya Airways at the forum

“It’s gladdening to see that our youths are now jeering up for tourism. Yet there’s still so much to be done”, he said.

“Tourism is taking what you have in your country, state or locality and packaging it for external audience. Let us open up our minds to know that tourism is about business. Don’t trivialize it”, Alade said.

Dr. James Rapheal, on his remarks revealed that he was successfully moved from doing tourism as a hobby and turned it into a profession.

“Many people see tourism as capital intensive; but I’m here to prove to you that it’s not”, he exclaimed, and stated that Ibadan has many discovered tourism sites and several undiscovered.

“You might want to spend money travelling out of Ibadan for tours. But why don’t you start from the ones that are nearest to you”, he charged the audience.

Abiola Bakare, Sales Manager, Kenya Airways said: “Tourism is serious business. But if you don’t have passion, you can’t survive in tourism business.

“If you start tourism business today; if you don’t have the passion and training you may not excel in it. Academics need to steer research in the industry. But the challenge is transforming the trainings in tourism into creating jobs.

“When we talk about inbound and outbound tourism, we need to stimulate our domestic tourism and the last few years we have started seeing growing focus on domestic tourism in this country. And we need to embrace it”, he maintained.

Cross section of the participants

The guest speakers, Coordinator, Sustainable Tourism & Development Programme, Univeristy of Ibadan, Dr. Raphael Alabi and Mr. Ibraheem Kukoyi from Dept of Tourism & Hospitality Management, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta gave indept analysis on impacts of sustainable tourism to the youths.

During the event, the convener, Omololu Olumuyiwa gave out 100% tuition fee scholarships to 20 lucky winners to study any course of their choice at Stay Up Aviation Institute of Tecnology, Ibadan.

Also, the Special guest at the occassion, member of Federal House of Representsatives, Hon. Bosun Oladede represented by Pastor Segun Iroko gave out 5 additional scholarships and all expenses paid for 20 participants to witness the next edtion of “Iyamopo Hill Jeans carnival” in Igbeti town.

The Managing Director, Nogle Travels, Mr. Godwin Chukwurah in his remarks charged the youths to be more proactive in the travel and tourism sector shortly after the “Online Travel Training” by the Business Development Manager, Mr. Frank Idibia.

“As a way to further encouraged the participants, the two of the Aviation college benefiaries, Olusegun Oki and Success Adenikinju will be employ by our company”, Chukurah said.

Awards of distinction were presented to some distinguished gentlemen, among which were Jemi Alade, who received the award of Destination Nigeria Ambassador; Dr. Raphael Alabi, Tourism Educational Achiever; Mr. Ibraheem Kukoyi, Tourism Educational Ambassador; Dr. Raphael James, Educational Tourism Ambassador; Barrister Bosun Oladele, Youth Tourism Empowerment Ambassador; Tope Ogbeni-Awe, Tourism Journalism Achiever and Paschal Ogunkoya, who went home with the Youth Tourism Ambassador  award.

Cross section of the participants