The Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) has advised the Federal Government and states to intensify efforts in environmental conservation to ensure tourism activities are upscaled.
Mrs Ime Udo, National President of NATOP, gave the advice during NATOP’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state, on Friday.
She said environmental conservation must be prioritised by protecting and preserving nation’s natural landscapes and biodiversity.
She noted that this could be done through the implementation of sustainable practices geared toward safeguarding the country’s tourism assets for future generations
The theme for the AGM was “Tourism Green Investments in Nigeria”.
“It is crucial for states in Nigeria to prioritise environmental conservation, by protecting our natural landscapes, preserving biodiversity, and implementing sustainable practices.
“We can safeguard our tourism assets for future generations. This will not only attract eco-conscious travelers but will also contribute to the overall well-being and quality of life for our citizens,” she said.
Udo, who cited examples of countries which had planked their tourism development on environmental conversation, said the Central American nation of Costa Rica and Asia’s Bhutan were some of the successful destinations.
She said eco-friendly practices drive their industry’s growth and by extension, promote a green economy.
She noted that Costa Rica stands out as a notable illustration, renowned for its commitment to sustainable tourism, by prioritising environmental conservation, investing in renewable energy, and promoting eco-friendly practices.
“Costa Rica has successfully positioned itself as a leading destination for Eco-tourism.
“This approach has not only attracted environmentally conscious travellers but has also generated economic opportunities, creating jobs and fostering overall economic growth.
“Another inspiring case comes from the nation of Bhutan, which has embraced the concept of Gross National Happiness, valuing the well-being of its people and the environment above all else.
“Now, let us turn our attention to Nigeria and explore how we can leverage the principles of sustainable tourism to grow our tourism sector.
“”Nigeria boasts a wealth of natural and cultural attractions, from breathtaking landscapes to vibrant cultural heritage sites.
“By adopting a green economy approach, we can tap into this immense potential and create a thriving tourism sector that benefits both our environment and our economy,” she said.
Udo urged her counterparts in the industry to equally strive to prioritise the socio-cultural aspects of sustainability.
She said this included respecting local traditions and cultures, supporting local businesses and communities, and educating tourists on the importance of responsible travel.
By Taiye Olayemi