Ambassador Amadou Taal, the Gambian High Commissioner to Nigeria, on Monday said that the development of the tourism sector could help to curb youth unemployment in the West African sub-region.
Taal made the observation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the ongoing Akwaaba Travel and Tourism Fair, holding in Lagos.
According to the envoy, countries within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have a huge population and various tourist and heritage sites.
“It is going to be great if we are able to harness and maximise the potentialities of the region, because we have a population of about 300 million.
“That is a huge market; in terms of the economy, it will create a lot of jobs.
“We have a big population of young people who are looking for jobs; and if we come together and work together in this sector, we can create a lot of jobs, which will have an impact on wealth distribution,” Taal said.
According to him, the ECOWAS should continue to foster economic cooperation among member states, to actualise the vision of its founding fathers.
He said :“ECOWAS is aimed at improving regional integration whereby citizens from these countries within West Africa can move about easily, without any hindrance.
“They can also move goods from one place to the other without any problems. They can also invest in any country within the sub-region with ease. That is the objective of ECOWAS.”
He said it was up to governments, members of the private sector and the civil society in the sub-region to make these things happen.
“We should not just say we have the protocols which have been signed. That is not enough. They must be translated to concrete actions.
“That is why an occasion like this one, the Akwaaba Travel and Tourism Market, is very important. It is a big fair, and there are people from Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and others here, interacting on tourism and transportation.”
He said that governments must, however, intensify efforts to attract investors to the transportation sector, adding that air, land and water transportation were pivotal to the growth of tourism.