Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, said Nigeria was targeting about $200 billion in the hospitality, transportation, eco-tourism and sports sectors of the economy from the ongoing Arabian Travel Market (ATM), holding in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Runsewe, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the yearly travel trade regional expo which targets inbound and outbound tourism professionals, said ATM yearly attracts over 215 investors from all over the world, especially from the Middle East, he stressed that this was a huge opportunity hence Nigeria is at the event to take advantage of the platform to promote investment to the country.
"We would make sure that we tap into this opportunity," he said, adding: "We have the size, the population and potential that make Nigeria attractive for investors."
He said what was left was to get the word out there and that is why NTDC has assembled some of the best players in the industry in the country at ATM to help market and promote the window of opportunities available in the country.
Runsewe said the major challenge facing his team was that of the security issue in the country with barrages of enquiries and fears being expressed by many visitors and intended investors at the stand.
He however said Nigeria remained safe for people to visit and invest in.
According to him, the present security challenge is community and regional based and that the Federal Government is on top of it, doing everything within its power to bring it under control and to ensure that it does not spread further and degenerate into matter of concern for the Nigerian people and visitors.
Speaking further, Runsewe also gave a personal guarantee that the tourism body would on its own, assist any investors interested in the country in fast tracking the process of investment even as he assured them of the safety of their investment and quick returns as well.
This year's exhibition holding at the Dubai International Exhibition and Conference Centre, which is the 19th edition of the forum being organsied by the Reed Exhibitions Limited, organisers of the yearly London World Travel Market (WTM) was declared opened at a brief and colourful grand opening ceremony by the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was accompanied on a tour of the exhibition grounds by a number of state officials and others.
The UAE is upbeat and in high spirit about the prospect of the travel and tourism this year as its target, about nine million tourists arrive for 2012 and this has also contributed to the increase of attendants at the travel expo this year with over 132 year - on - year pre-registration increase.
Over 2, 400 exhibitors from 87 countries were in attendance, reflecting seven percent increase over that of last year with over 23, 000 visitors expected at the four-day event, which ends on Thursday May 3.
According to the forecast for UAE released by international industry consultant Business Monitor International (BMI), the nine million figure represents nine per cent health growth on the 8.2 million garnered by the emirates in 2011.
This performance is attributed to the unrest in the middle east region - Egypt and North Africa in particular, which has helped to divert more tourists to the emirates with hotels in Dubai witnessing over 10 percent year -on- year to nearly 4.6 million for the first half of 2011 with Abu Dhabi, the capital of the emirates recording over 2.1 million guests in hotels last year.