By Tunde Johnson, Abuja
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, has disclosed that the introduction of Google map in the country has boosted tourism, as well as reduced travel time by an average of eight percent.
Mohammed noted that the introduction of Google digital map has reduced travel time, which has made the country save nearly N200 billion a year.
Speaking during the launch of the Economic Value of Geospatial Services in Abuja on Friday, the Minister, who commended the laudable initiative by Google, said the ability to simply search for a location and get real-time directions there has made the lives of the people much more convenient.
“As we look to make Nigeria a major tourism destination in Africa, technologies such as Google Maps, but more specifically Street View put forward by Google, will become increasingly important on that front. We hope to see even more value as increasing numbers of people use tools like Google Street View to explore Nigeria,” he said.
Mohammed said geospatial technology will not only benefit local users but that it is also a veritable tool that can also be incredibly powerful in drawing tourists to the country.
“We know this because we’ve seen the impact that Street View has had in destinations around Africa. In South Africa, for instance, people can take a guided tour of Robben Island, the prison which held Nelson Mandela and many other South African freedom fighters during apartheid.
“In Kenya, meanwhile, users can take virtual treks through some of the country’s most famous game reserves. And in Tanzania, people can get up close and personal with the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, thanks to a partnership between Google and the Jane Goodall foundation.
“These are all examples of how giving people a taste of a place they have not visited is a powerful incentive to get them to experience the real thing. We look forward to doing the same in Nigeria, as we show off our own natural and cultural heritage,” he said.
The Minister said the interconnectedness between technology and tourism will assist in bringing in foreign capital as well as the growth of other industries including hospitality, retail and transport.
“It also promotes and encourages patronage of local agriculture and creative industries as well as manufactured products by operators in the tourism industry. That’s especially important as we look to cement our place as Africa’s largest economy,” he said.
“I’d like to say that events such as this one offer a powerful reminder of how impactful partnerships between government and private companies like Google can be – to grow our local businesses and strengthen our economy.
“If digital mapping services have made such a difference in the last five years, we can only imagine what the next five will bring. We look forward to growing this fruitful relationship in the coming years and seeing what Google comes up with next,” he said.