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FTAN seeks establishment of Tourism Advisory Council

By Chuks Nwanne
23 November 2019   |   4:19 am
The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), has called on the Federal and state government in the country to expedite action in setting up a Tourism Advisory Council for Nigeria.

FTAN President, Alhaji Saleh Kareem Rabo

The Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), has called on the Federal and state government in the country to expedite action in setting up a Tourism Advisory Council for Nigeria.

The association made the call in a communiqué issued after the successful hosting of the Nigeria Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition (NTIFE) 2019, held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.

The communiqués signed by FTAN President, Alhaji Saleh Kareem Rabo, affirmed that the need to setup the council became necessary due to the 2013 Supreme Court Judgement, between NTDC and Lagos State Government, which stipulates that regulation of Tourism Services is the statutory purview of State Governments, thereby limiting the supervisory roles hitherto performed by the NTDC.

The communiqué stated that the Tourism Advisory Council members should cooperatively work towards the improvement of infrastructure at tourist destinations and coordinate the implementation of a common standard in the quality tourist/visitor facilities and services provided across Nigeria.

“To this end, we recommend that membership of the proposed Tourism Advisory Council should comprise of representatives of each of the 36 State Governments in Nigeria, a representative of the FCT, a representative of the NTDC & that of NIHOTOUR, and representatives of the organized private sector, i.e. FTAN member associations.

“It is incumbent on the Federal and State Governments, to collaborate with the private sector tourism operators, to strategically increase the visibility of Nigeria’s domestic tourist destinations and products therein. The partnership is necessary because in tourism management, ‘Destinations’ are geographic area in Nigeria’s Federating States, while ‘Tourist Products’ are value added services sold to visitors and tourists by private sector tourism operators. Therefore, the benefits of this partnership to Government are the receivable taxes and levies; while the benefit to the private sector are the profits from sales of tourist services at the destination.

“Evidently, Nigeria cannot have a thriving Tourism industry, with economic multiplier-effects in tourist host communities, if the culture of leisure tourism is not entrenched in Nigeria. More so, Nigeria is the largest travel source market in Africa, powered by our huge population and growing middle class. A successful domestic tourism culture would eventually attract the highly profitable foreign inbound tourists.”

The organisation urged the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and National Orientation, together with the State Tourism Ministries to extend their partnership with the organised private sector, through FTAN, to embark on massive domestic tourism public awareness and promotional campaigns, in order to drive domestic tourist traffic to the visitors-ready tourist destinations and related products in Nigeria.

The campaign, FTAN said, should target the bourgeoning middle and upper class Nigerians citizens and the expatriate community who have the disposable income to embark on leisure tourism.

“The organised tourism private sector in Nigeria, under the aegis of FTAN, demands that the prevailing Federal and State Governments tax systems should be rejigged, and subsequently more coordinated, to eliminate or reduce – where it is inescapable – the crippling multiple tax regimes and other statutory charges levied on hotels, resorts and travel trade companies in Nigeria.

“Globally, tourism business investments require a long-term gestation period to return profits. More so, most thriving ‘tourism countries’ in the world today built their industry with tourism-business-friendly government policies that spectacularly incentivize tourism investments, including easy access to land for tourism, establishment of development funds, tax holidays, zero import duties for tourism businesses, and et cetera.”

“In Nigeria today, tourism investors and service providers, who are mostly SMEs, are repeatedly taxed and levied at multiple levels, including at the Federal, State and Local government levels. This has over the years, led to sudden closure and avoidable bankruptcy of promising tourist business operations in Nigeria – who took bank loans at double digits and could not pay back due to stifling tax regimes and unpredictable government levies.

“Governments in Nigeria must learn to nurture the growth of tourism businesses before hurrying to tax us. That is the best practice at every successful tourism economy in the world. Nigerian government, through the civil and public service, should encourage growth, and not frustrate growth of the tourism industry! Otherwise, the tourism industry in Nigeria, which is one of the largest direct and indirect employer of labour, would continue to be petered out of existence, resulting in thousands of job losses and loss of likely government revenues.