NIHOTOUR tasks journalists, security agents on Brand Nigeria
* Government Has Shown Political Will To Drive Sustainable Tourism, says Lai Mohammed
It’s obvious that the world has a very negative perception of Nigeria and Nigerians. This poor image, which was foisted upon the country by the international community, was eventually fleshed by the bad behaviour of a few Nigerians both within and outside the country. However, record shows that there are Nigerians across the world doing great things, except that the foreign media seem to be more interested in bad news.
For so long, the negative perception about Nigeria has gone unchallenged to the extent that it’s beginning to stick in the consciousness of most people around the world. To them, most Nigerians are criminals or fraudsters. Consequently, across the globe, in airports and other public places, whenever the green passport is sighted, you are asked to stand aside for special screening. In most cases, Nigeria is always on the list of ‘no go area’ for some foreign nationals. So, for a nation that is determined to play big in the tourism sector, which has become a major income earner across the globe, there’s urgent need to aggressively showcase the positive side of the nation to help promote brand Nigeria.
In that regards, the National institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) has charged travel journalists and security agents across the country to adopt a positive disposition on the promotion of Nigeria so as to attract the right attention to the country in its quest to diversifying its economy as a way of overcoming the present recession in the country.
This charge was given by the Director General of NIHOTOUR, Mrs. Chika Balogun, while declaring open a one–day training workshop organised by the institute for travel journalists and security agent in Lagos recently under the theme, Global tourism ethics and ethics on brand Nigeria. Held at the Events Centre, Ikeja, Lagos, the training was attended by security officers from the Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) and Nigerian Civil Defense and Security Corps and tourism reporters. It was an opportunity for participants to brainstorm on how best to make Nigeria marketable to the rest of the world.
“If the task of making Nigeria one of the top 20 destinations in the world is to be achieved, then Nigeria has been promoted in positive light and branded accurately in line with global tourism ethics. Travel journalists and security agents have a great role to play in this regard,” she said.
The DG also spoke on the need to adequately equip journalists and security agents on the appropriate ethics that would help in the branding of the country, adding that NIHOTOUR has decided to bring together both the journalists and security agents based on “our collective resolve to promote Nigeria for a better day ahead.”
She then appealed to the travel journalists to make the necessary effort to promote Nigeria tourism in positive light, calling on the security agents to cooperate with tourism operators in protecting the country and ensuring that the right controls and measures are put in place to secure the nation.
In his address, the special guest of honour and Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the Director of Domestic Tourism and Control in the ministry, Mrs. Ada Okoli, urged journalists and security agents to be good ambassadors on the country and play their role in the ongoing effort to reposition brand Nigeria.
The workshop, which started at about 10am, had two technical sessions. While one session was devoted to the training of security agents, the second was designed for travel journalists. Experts on security, brand and destination building, tourism ethics and other related topics were on ground as facilitators.
In the end, certificate of attendance were given to the participants with Mrs. Balogun charging them to put in good use the various ethics, skills and knowledge impacted on them, even as she disclosed that NIHOTOUR would on a regular basis hold such training sessions for the different segments of the society in accordance with its mandate.
Meanwhile, the Minister is of the opinion that the Nigerian government has demonstrated that it has the political will to drive sustainable tourism in the country. Speaking at a panel of African Ministers of Tourism, who met on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, Mohammed, however, said that for tourism to be sustainable, it must first be put on a sound footing.
‘’We have a rich diversity in our culture and tourism sector. We have so much that the world wants to see. We have stories that the world wants to hear. ‘But the challenge for us is to leverage our huge diversity to make tourism the next oil in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed informed that as a mark of its political will, the present Administration is reviving the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) to drive the development of tourism in the country. Already, the Steering Committee of the PCT has met to prepare the agenda for the PCT, which is expected to meet very soon and be presided over by the President.
He also said that since tourism cannot thrive without security, transparency and good infrastructure, the government is investing in massive infrastructural development (roads, rail, power, etc, adding, ‘’Security has improved
drastically, especially in the North-east where Boko Haram has been decimated. The government also puts a lot of premium on transparency, which is
required for boosting investor confidence and encouraging tourism. The fight against corruption
has been ratcheted up, and no one is deemed to be a sacred cow as far as the fight against corruption is concerned,’’ he said
He continued: ‘’With all modesty, the present administration in my country has been working hard to move tourism from the margins to the mainstream, especially because tourism has been identified as one of the sectors upon which the government’s economic diversification is anchored. Tourism has now been brought to the front burner,’’ the Minister said.