The federal government has taken over the running of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, NIHOTOUR, North Central Zonal Training Campus, Makurdi, Benue state.

Speaking at the official handover of NIHOTOUR, in Makurdi on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said tourism has become a major catalyst to economic growth and social wellbeing of citizens.

He said the tourism industry is a viable business to invest in and reasons why the federal government is doing everything possible to develop the industry for the benefits derivable.

Lai Mohammed said Benue state and Nigeria in general will benefit from the export earning capacity, employment generation, revenue distribution, infrastructural development and Intersectoral linkage incentives derivable from tourism globally.

According to him, the travel sector, tourism and other related services have over 1000 private establishments, have employed over 9.8million person in the 36 states of the federation including the FCT.

He also disclosed that the hospitality industry in Nigeria contributed about 4.8 percent of Nigeria’s national output in the year 2016.

He noted that the availability of well trained personnel is one of the prerequisites for tourism to develop and play the desired roles in the social and economic life of the nation saying “this forms the basis for the federal government’s decision to have a specialized training institution for hospitality and tourism industry in Nigeria which culminated in the establishment of NIHOTOUR.”

He said the institution which will attract students from in and outside the country will provide skills proficiency, technical upgrading, and professional knowledge based education in the hospitality and tourism industry in Nigeria and West Africa.

He praised Governor Samuel Ortom for his support to the industry saying the donation of the edifice for the training centre is a show of his commitment to the development of the sector assuring that the federal government will do its part for the center to achieve desired results.

The Director General of NIHOTOUR, Nura Kangiwa said Benue state, apart from being the food basket of the nation, is one of the tourism haven with a lot of potentials that if properly harnessed will add to the revenue growth of the nation.

He thanked Governor Ortom for his commitment to the growth of the hospitality industry in the state and charged him to produce a tourism master plan for the state which he said was significant step in putting Benue state on the tourism map of Nigeria.

He noted that manpower development is a critical ingredient to a robust hospitality industry pledging that Nigeria will continue to do its part to ensure that those manning the sector are equipment the right skills.

READ ALSO: APC Has Turned President Buhari To A Lame Duck – PDP

In her welcome address, the state commissioner of Information Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Ngunan Addingi thanked the Federal government for setting the headquarters of North Central Zonal training center in Benue state.

She noted that during the period of COVID-19 lockdown, interested candidates had already purchased forms into the institution.

The Commissioner opined that the dependence on oil revenue was responsible for putting the country into the recession which she is currently facing.

She noted that the oil revenue is no longer enough to take care of the vast growing population hence the need for the country to diversify.

Mrs. Addingi stated that development of the hospitality and tourism industry will not only increase revenue generation for the country but will also generate employment for the teeming Nigeria youths.

The Governor, Samuel Ortom thanked the President for the opportunity to serve the North central zone.

He said Benue believes that the hospitality and tourism industry holds a lot of promises to the wellbeing of the state and the nation.

He, therefore, requested the federal government’s help in completing the hostel accommodation for students and equipment the library.

Ortom also appealed that at least, 50 percent of the state indigenes be considered for federal appointments in the hospitality and tournament industry.