How to boost practical tourism in Nigeria, by FTAN Boss
Seeks Presidential Council On Tourism
To drive genuine development and promotion of practical tourism in Nigeria, the president of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), Nkereuwem Onung, has charged the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari to reinstate the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) to stimulate the States apparatus.
Onung said this at the opening of the 5th edition of the National Tourism and Transportation Summit and Expo at the Abuja International Conference Centre on Monday.
In his remark, he said the tourism sector has been sidelined due to the absence of a stand-alone ministry to activate its pivotal role as a relevant ecosystem of the Nigerian economy.
“This summit is about the link between transportation and tourism; now this link is very important due to the fact that in calculating the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Tourism, we look at travels. This is why the government said we couldn’t be given a ministry of our own, as they’ve not seen the contribution of tourism to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But here is the thing, when you add up the contribution of transportation and you bring aviation and other allied tourism sector businesses that made up the value chain together, it will give you an incredible outlook of data and inflow that will blow your mind.”
He continued: “We have many people who are doing events and because they think tourism is not viable, they begin to get into an alliance with other departments of the economy. Hence the need to use this opportunity to call on the Federal Government to re-enact the PCT; where you will bring the eight different ministries together so that tourism would find focus in Nigeria.”
Onung who spoke passionately about the setback experienced in the tourism further said: “Today, as a sector, we are so dysfunctional and you can’t believe it because we even think that some of the agencies of the government are illegal because of the laws in operations; and because of the 2019 judgment of the Supreme Court, we are told that tourism resides with the States, but we know that tourism should be a national phenomenon which is the ideology behind this cause.”
The FTAN president also noted that transportation is not the only bottleneck of tourism. He highlighted other problems in the sector including the non-availability of a functional master plan and outdated tourism policies. “It is time for us to sit together to explore the lowest hanging fruit of tourism for the development of our country.”
Onung, however, commended the Institute of Tourism Professionals of Nigeria for organising an event that is pivotal to the stimulation of the public and private sector partnership. He said: “The success of the summit and expo rested on the fact that it was anchored by a private sector. Kudos to the private sector because despite the challenges this industry had encountered, even during the COVID-19 that hotels were shut down for 12 months, most people lost their jobs and businesses, the airlines were not flying, yet the aviation sector managed the situation. “This industry needs help which is why I am asking the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Information and Culture, to take the message back to our Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that we want to know what happened to the FG approved COVID-19 palliative “relief fund” for the tourism sector, we are interested in it. Lets not sweep it under the carpet.”
The FTAN President also appreciated the organiser of the event, Chief Abiodun Odusanwo for creating an environment for conversation. “We only have two major events like this -Akwaaba African Travel Market and this event, so we cannot afford not to be here,” he noted.
On the opportunities for Nigeria in the continent, Onung informed the audience on the Africa agenda 2063, which outlines the Africa that everyone wants. According to him, it is the blueprint and the master plan for transforming Africa.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is real and we have to be practical so as to be part of the moving train. The Institute for Tourism Professionals of Nigeria (ITPN) is one of the 23 associations that make up a federation, which is the voice of tourism in Nigeria. In FTAN we are trying to bring forth tourism marketing in Nigeria. Destination Nigeria has to be emphasised, Insurance has to be done and capacity building too in order to give the tourism industry a viable and sustainable meaning to the Nigeria economy.”
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