Tourism bodies seek government recognition, demand slots in tourism boards
Various private sector players in the nation’s tourism industry recently paid a courtesy visit on the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Coming under the umbrella body of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), the group made several demands from the federal government, among which was proper recognition of the private sector’s contributions to tourism development in the country.
National President of FTAN, Alhaji Rabo Saleh Kareem, who spoke on behalf of the group, also demanded two slots for FTAN in all tourism boards.
This he stated, would ensure proper representation of the private sector in tourism policies, and consequently reposition it to contribute maximally, individually and collectively to the growth of the industry.
The Association had earlier flayed the Minister over non-recognition of its members’ submissions at the recently concluded 9th National Council on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation held in Dutse, Jigawa State.
According to FTAN President, the communique issued at the end of the meeting failed to capture valuable contributions made by the private sector operators in tourism.
“There was nothing on FTAN in the communique. This means that our position was not noted, and our contributions not recognized. It was not good for the image of FTAN. So, we would appreciate if the position of FTAN is well represented in the final communique”, he said.
Some other demands include need for government to visit some of the issues contained in the report issued at the end of the National Tourism Summit held in 2015; that their members be incorporated in the plans towards the hosting of 2018 Tourism Conference, and that government should develop tourism products and destinations within the Federal Capital Territory as a way of diversifying the economy.
The group also used the occasion of its visit to intimate the Minister about its annual Tourism programme scheduled for next year, and solicited support.
According to the President, the new body was inaugurated in June and there was need for a synergy between both parties towards moving the sector forward.In his response, the Minister informed the new executive of an existing cordial relationship with the body.
According to him, tourism is built on three major pillars of the private sector is at the centre.He further assured that the contributions of FTAN at the Council meeting would be fully captured and articulated in the final communique.He however informed that once the communique is adopted, the contributions become that of the Council and would not be attributed to FTAN.
On FTAN being represented in all tourism boards, the Minister described the suggested as noble but recalled that FTAN already has a representative in the Presidential Council on Tourism. “It speaks volume of the place of FTAN in tourism development”, the Minister said.
While acknowledging the crucial place of FTAN in tourism development, the Minister however cautioned that it should not see itself as an advisory body to the government but rather, a worthy partner.
“FTAN should see itself as partner and not advisory to the ministry. We need to work together to look at the various challenges any of the tourism bodies is facing.”
The Minister refuted insinuations that he has relegated culture and tourism at the expense of information segment of the Ministry.He confessed that since he assumed office, he has devoted more of his time to culture and tourism than the information.
“Culture and tourism is not relegated but taking more of my energy”, he said. Some of the associations under FTAN include tour operators, hotel owners, auto sports and travel agencies.The Minister state that it would be impossible to host a major tourism conference in the country without their collaboration.