In a bid to create jobs and to increase the capacity of manpower in the tourism sector, the Federal Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), has trained no fewer than 40 youths in Epe, Lagos State as tour guides and operators.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Epe, the Minister of Tourism, Mrs Lola Ade-John said the training, known as EcoGenesis Incubator Series, was meant to support tourism development.

She said the Epe edition was the fourth in the series, adding that similar trainings had also been held in Badagry, Makurdi and Ekiti.

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She urged the beneficiaries to practise all they had learnt, be accommodating of tourists, relay beautiful and interesting stories of Epe and remain polite always.

“This marks a pivotal moment where we embark on a journey of empowerment and growth for our local tourism industry.

“As the Minister of Tourism, I am deeply committed to fostering sustainable development and promoting the immense potential of our beautiful Epe region through community engagements.

“The EcoGenesis Incubator Series represents a significant milestone in our effort to elevate tourism, by providing training and guidance to our aspiring and established tourist operators and guides.

“We are investing in the future of our people and unlocking new opportunities for economic prosperity.

“Tourism is not merely about visiting attractions, it is about creating unforgettable experiences that leave lasting impact on visitors and locals alike.

“Through this initiative, we aim to equip our tourism professionals with knowledge, skills, and passion, to showcase the unique beauty and cultural heritage of Epe to the world,” she said.

Ade-John commended the organisers, sponsors and participants for their dedication and commitment to making the training session a reality.

“I urge you all to let us embrace the spirit of collaboration and innovation, as we work towards a brighter future for tourism in Epe.”

Also speaking, Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, Director-General of NIHOTOUR, noted that the EcoGenesis Incubator Series programme was part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

Kangiwa said the training will reposition Nigeria on the global tourism map, as a preferred tourism destination.

He said it will also address poverty and unemployment in rural communities across the states and the nation, adding that the training was essential due to the enormous tourism potential of Epe.

According to him, capacity building in skills to operate and manage tourism investments were critical to building strong destinations and ensuring destination sustainability.

He said the skills acquired will build a solid foundation for self reliance, job creation, revenue and employment generation, poverty alleviation and added value to productivity and national economy.

He explained that tour guiding as a profession had impacted the overall tourism industry.

“This tourism service of tour guiding for tourists across Nigeria and the globe has contributed to the creation of more than 118 million jobs.

“This translated into 3.8 percent global employment as reported by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

“Records also have it that for every 30 new tourists, one new job is created in every industry of the sector.

“In fact, it is estimated that tourism will continue to grow to 414 million jobs and 11.6 percent of total employment by 2028.

“I want to appreciate the minister of tourism, for the wisdom and insight to initiate this laudable sustainability programme.

“This has added value to youths of the Epe Local Government Area, the state and the nation,” Kangiwa said.

One of the beneficiaries of the training, Aminat Lawal, who is an undergraduate of Allied Sciences at the Olabisi Onabanjo Polytechnic, said she enrolled in the programme because of her love for tourism.

The final year student described the training session as educating and enlightening.

“This is a great privilege for me, I appreciate NIHOTOUR and all the facilitators, I look forward to practising as a tour guide.”

Also, Joseph Adeniyi, who had been earlier exposed to little knowledge of tourism, said he was only looking for other means of generating income.

Adeniyi said he gained adequate knowledge on tour packaging and will begin to practise as soon as possible.

Mrs Surah Animashaun, Chairman, Epe Local Government Area, expressed gratitude to the minister and NIHOTOUR, for training Epe youths, stressing that the problem of unemployment had been reduced by this gesture.

Mr Tobun Abiodun, representing, Epe Constituency 1, at the Lagos State House of Assembly, commended the minister and NIHOTOUR, for the kind gesture extended to Epe youths.

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