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NIHOTOUR boss identifies human development as key to sustainable tourism industry in Nigeria

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Balogun

The Director General of the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) Mrs. Chika Balogun has identifies human development as key to sustainable tourism industry in Nigeria. Balogun, who spoke recently on sundry issues bothering on the nation’s hospitality and tourism industry, stressed that for the sector to progress, the manpower needed to run the industry must be vibrant, knowledge based and technology driven.

The DG, however, noted that the hospitality and tourism industry is gradually picking up in meeting the yearnings of stakeholders sector takes its rightful place as the driving force of the country’s desire to diversify from oil.

“Globally, tourism is acknowledged as one of the biggest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries. The present administration has, in recognition of the significance of tourism in reviving and driving a sustainable economy, chosen to promote the tourism industry as one area to diversify the economy in order to achieve growth and improve the country’s GDP. This is the reason government is working hard to improve the business of tourism and its entire value chain by putting in place the necessary enabling environment for the industry to thrive. One of such enablers is capacity building,” she noted.

She stated that, while the hospitality sub sector operates through services provided by hotels such as accommodation and catering services, the travels, tours and events (transport, creative, entertainment and culture) form the nucleus of tourism activities.

“The desire for a well-trained and skilled manpower to deliver quality service in the industry is the essence and core mandate of the Institute. This is what the Institute is engaged in; providing training at all levels and cadres for competent and effective operation and management of the industry.”

Upon assumption of office, Balogun discovered that the necessary legislative backing for NIHOTOUR to carry out its mandate optimally was lacking. With the support of the 8th National Assembly that put the necessary machinery in motion, the dream of the institute to have a bill that supports its activities under a legislative instrument was actualized.

“This singular initiative and effort gives me joy as it’s been 30 years in the making and I look forward to it’s completion very soon. I’m very keen and passionate about training because it is the cornerstone and driving force for the growth and sustainability of any industry, but more so for Hospitality and tourism, which is essentially service driven and human capital intensive. Tourism is largely an experiential activity and the customer usually goes home with only memories of a good or bad service offered in the process. This is why the quality of service provided is critical to the success and sustainable growth of the industry,” she said.

With nine campuses spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, providing the infrastructural facilities of the Campuses of NIHOTOUR has been easy, though work is still in progress to ensure they are up to date in terms of facilities.

“Generally, I will say we have done much with what is available to ensure that necessary facilities are provided for the Campuses to operate effectively and efficiently. However, the Institute is looking at support, partnerships and collaboration from Tourism friendly private sector and State governments that are passionate about developing their States tourism potentials. We have tourism and hospitality establishments spread across all the states of the federation in need of competent personnel. There is the need to therefore take the training nearer to the people to ease access to the training opportunities available and at affordable cost to the trainees.

Currently, the institute has collaborated with organised private sector and state governments, including Benue State Government (campus), Osun State Government (campus), Kano State University for Science and Technology (joint running of Daula Hotel Kano as a live training hotel), Consolidated Alliance (E-Training, E-Training Centres, E-Commerce and SmartJobs Creation), JETRO Tours International NIHOTOUR-JETRO Tourism Clubs for primary/secondary schools and youth to stimulate a desire for hospitality and tourism business at an early age, while training them on the need to sustain the environment and cultures.

“We also have partnerships with hotels for internship programs for our trainees. A current ‘Expression of Interest’ document is online www.nihotour.gov.ng click on the SMARTJOBS link and click on EXPRESSION OF INTEREST to respond to our call for internship program partners and much more,” she said.

NIHOTOUR training ensures that the quality of workers in the industry are of high standards and are able to provide high quality services to their customers in a measurable and standardised manner in line with global best practices.

“For better quality service delivery in the industry, training is key and very essential. The specific skills and training required of personnel in the hospitality service industry are those that will enable them function and carry out their duties in the most optimal way possible for the satisfaction of customers or guest and sustainability of the environment.

The National Occupational Standards (NOS) which is set by the Sector Skills Council, sets minimum curricular standards and skill sets required per time, that address the needs of the various cadres and levels in hospitality, travels and tourism training programmes. The nature of training offered by NIHOTOUR is a combination of classroom, ICT and hands–on training, that falls in line with the National Skills Qualification Framework. It’s not just about the theoretical classroom training, but actually training on the job to reinforce what was learned in the classroom and online,” Balogun said.

Meanwhile, training in the tourism industry as established by UNWTO, has to do with the principles of matching the skills offered during the educational process to the real expectations and needs of demand. In that regard, a National Occupational Standards (NOS) has been set and approved by the NBTE based on the needs of the industry and is embedded in the National Skills Qualification Frameworks (NSQF).

“The vision of the National Occupational Standards and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) are a global phenomenon and a recent occurrence in Nigeria and ultimately the goal is to produce a workforce that delivers excellence and can compete favourably in the global space. The National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) is meant to bridge the gap and disconnect in the system with a work place skills competence and evidence-based certification. NIHOTOUR has thus been certified as a qualified training institute for the National Skills Qualifications (NSQ) framework and has trained staff to become assessors, internal verifiers and external verifiers to help the organisation deliver excellence in capacity building for the sector.”

She continued: “Our mandate empowers us to deliver training and award certificates and diplomas to personnel in the sector, do research and build capacity all round. We also provide tailor made courses for our clients and programmes in partnerships with other institutions. The Kano University of Science and Technology, Utali College in Kenya, The Association of Business Executives, an International Training Organisation based in the United Kingdom, are some of our affiliates,” she said.


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