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NATOP president promises a more professional association, as members gear up for AGM

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Airport, Lagos

With annual general meeting of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) schedule to hold from Monday, April 9, President of the Association, Mr. Nkereuwem Onung, has promised to deliver a new more professional Association at the AGM. 

In a mail to members of the Association, Onung noted that NATOP has been in transition for years and has grown from 15 professional Tour Operators registered by NTDC in 2011 when other Travel Associations had over 2000 registered members to a national association that is reckoned with by Nigerians, and a thing of envy to others with its growing profile in matters of tourism in Nigeria.

According to him, because of the rising profile and the quality of the tourism experts found in NATOP, players in the industry now seek after its membership.

“Let me use this medium to appreciate all members of NATOP, especially the present Exco for their solidarity and steadfastness that has been exhibited in the past years.

It has been a long journey. We picked up an association at a fragile stage with very few members and little visibility, and have seen it grow into limelight and prominence to the extent that other associations feel threatened by it.

“We are thankful to Otunba Segun Runsewe D.G NCAC, then D.G NTDC, who in 2011, officially registered tour operators as professional tourism practitioners in Nigeria.

We have witnessed desperate efforts by some individuals who are not tour operators and some outside forces attempting to scuttle/disrupt and hijack the association and crash it.

Thanks to a few dedicated members of the association who stood firm, supported and funded the association up until now. I appreciate them.

“Let me state here that this is the first time government will be hosting our AGM with commitment. This should be commended. Plateau State Government, in an attempt to refresh and highlight ‘Destination Plateau’, has accepted to host tour operators from April 7- 9.

“NATOP has agreed to partner with the government to help grow another tourism destination in Nigeria, thereby promoting domestic tourism.

NATOP is a National Association and as such her AGM should be rotated across the country. This will be my last AGM as President, and as such I invite all members to take advantage of the event and promote Tourism in the Plateau,” the mail read parts.

Onung, further stated that Abuja as the federal capital should have a strong presence of NATOP. He added that the Exco has taken the initiative to set up a chapter in Abuja.

“It is the duty of executive to propel the association, and Warri/P.H and the South East are the next in line for inauguration.

I want to use this medium to thank Mrs. Fatima Garbati, who steered the ship of NATOP in the past and handed over to us.

I believe that a new NATOP will emerge after Jos AGM where young professionals will be given opportunity to participate,” Onung said.

NATOP for the first time is holding its AGM in the northern part of country, and the choice of Jos for the AGM is to demonstrate that the state is safe for tourism. Plateau had been a leading tourism destination though challenged by insecurity.

Onung noted that the last AGM having been held in Lagos and in Calabar the year before, Plateau has the right to host the first event outside the South of Nigeria.

He added that the choice of Jos for the AGM is to reinforce the fact that Plateau is safe for tourism, and NATOP needs to discover and expose new locations to tour professionals.

“This is the first time the Association will hold its AGM in the northern part of Nigeria. It is a pleasure that the first event outside Southern Nigeria is holding in Plateau State.

Nigeria is blessed, and Plateau is so rich in tourism that we should start repositioning it as a way of growing tourism in Nigeria,” Onung stated.

Meanwhile, Plateau State Commissioner for Tourism, Mrs. Tamwakat Weli, in a message to NATOP, pledged the state government’s support for the AGM.

She made the pledge while hosting Onung, who was in Jos on a pre-event visit, after the postponement of the AGM from the initial date to the new schedule date, April 9, saying that Plateau State is ready to host the biggest tourism experts’ event in Nigeria, and will showcase the best of the culture and hospitality of Plateau.

She said, “There is a need for professional tour operators to visit Plateau to see for themselves the rich asset we possess and that is why we seek to partner with NATOP.

We as a state have been looking for partners to promote and position ourselves and we are delighted that the Professionals are coming. It is our hope that they will enjoy themselves and go home as Ambassadors of Plateau Tourism,”

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Mr. John Likita Best, commended NATOP and described it as a forward-looking association that has come in at the right time to support the efforts of the government and people of the Plateau State.

“It is a ground-breaking event, which among others will celebrate the speedy growth and success of tourism in nation building, and Plateau State tourism’s achievements to position the state as a major tourism destination in Nigeria, including the NATOP’s contribution to these successes,” he said.

With the AGM theme as: ‘Security Challenges and Promotion of Tourism in Nigeria’, the 2018 AGM is an elective AGM, and comes after a very successful year, where it successfully hosted a World Tourism Day boat cruise on the Lagos Lagoon and a tour of Epe in Lagos.

As part of the event, there will be a one-day tour of Plateau State, which has been scheduled to hold on Sunday April 8, before the AGM on April 9, at Hill Station Hotel, Jos.

NATOP as the national body for all tour operators and those engaged in allied services is also devoted to developmental issues in the areas of policies and advocacies, promotion and marketing as well as development of tourist destinations and attractions in Nigeria.

The Association also seeks for creating enabling environment and operating conditions for the business of its members to thrive, and engage in activities/events that are geared at adding value to the Nigerian economy.


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