By Orji Onyekwere
The federal government led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been asked to lhave a harder look into the original tourism master plan to help the country harness the potentials of its tourism sector as a major income earner.
This is the position canvassed by president of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) Mr. Nkereuwem Onung, during a courtesy visit at the office of the Minister of the newly established Ministry of Tourism, Ms. Lola Ade-John in her office.
Onung was accompanied by the Directors General of the two agencies in the ministry; the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Nura Kangiwa, and his counterpart at the Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA), Mr. Folarin Coker.
While seeking the Federal Government attention to revisit the master plan, FTAN also proposed that individual states of the federation be mandated to draw up their own tourism master plans, which FTAN posits ‘will equally serve as a roadmap and guide in the implementation of their tourism development programs and activities.’
According to Onung, government needs to revisit the National Tourism Master plan because, ‘Nigeria cannot talk about developing the tourism industry without a roadmap to guide it to do so most effectively and efficiently in line with the objective of the National Tourism Development Plan as a vital document.’
FTAN also sought the reactivation of the mandatory but now abandoned Federal Government’s hosting of the National Council on Tourism, which was a platform ‘where important national policies and programs on tourism industry are discussed, far reaching decisions are taken, giving guide and direction to national tourism activities for sustainability and enhancement.’
The group also backed the formation of Commissioners of Tourism Forum, which it said ‘will bring all commissioners of tourism across the country together and allow them to discuss tourism development issues in their domains as well as offer the opportunity for synergy in national tourism development matters.’
The tourism operators’ group, in addition to its proposals before the minister, urged the Federal Government to come up with a calendar of events which will include all key tourism and hospitality events across the country annually.
“Besides giving national tourism events a line of focus and direction in preparedness, it will guide tourists to prepare their schedules to attend tourism and hospitality events in the country by both local and international visitors,” the FTAN president told the minister.
The business group also advocated the revival of the long rested Presidential Council of Tourism, which it said is a platform that brings together key stakeholders from the public sector comprising lines Ministries, Departments and Agencies at all levels of government as well as the organized private sector in the tourism industry with His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief as Chairman of the council.
Onung recalled the ‘the thorny issue of Grading and Classification of Tourism and Hospitality establishments’ which he said needs to be in place to guide ‘standard operation patterns for tourism and hospitality establishments in the country in line with global best practices.”
FTAN also made a case to be carried along in programs, events and projects of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on tourism development matters and initiatives.
In conclusion, FTAN advised the Federal Government ‘to key into the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda on Tourism of the United Nations and devise means to implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs, and promotes local culture and products.’
While commending President Bola Tinubu for ‘creating a separate Ministry for Tourism, which it said heeded ‘the cry of the industry,’ FTAN also hailed Ms Ade-John’s ‘worthiest appointment,’ describing it as ‘a good omen and literally the best thing that has happened to the industry in recent years given her pedigree and unalloyed commitment and dedication to the service of the country.’
The FTAN President, therefore, expressed the trust that Ms Ade-John’s emergence ‘will bring to bear in positioning Nigeria as a country that should enormously rely on the Tourism Industry because of the immense economic values it has to offer.’
In her brief response, Ade-John reechoed President Tinubu’s charge to all the ministerial appointees to revitalize their sectors, even as she thanked the FTAN delegation for the courtesy visit to her office ‘despite the tight space in the meeting room.’
The minister assured FTAN of her commitment to ‘push in ways and modalities to make tourism in Nigeria work,’ with the cooperation of the private sector enterprise stakeholders like the group.
On the abandoned TSA, the minister explained that since she is coming from a background of technology and data, she ‘will ensure the TSA works.’
“Presently, I am working closely with all the ministers to ensure that the mandate to which they were appointed by President Bola Tinubu were achieved and do all within their power to ensure they succeeded,” Ms Ade-John said.
On the issue of carrying FTAN along in government attendance at international events, the minister assured that she is working closely with all the parastatals and the ministry to attend those events in order ‘to tell the world that Tourism in Nigeria is back.’
On partnership with private sector operators in the industry, the minister assured of her readiness to ‘gladly talk to FTAN anytime’ and FTAN should feel free to come to the office to see her anytime.
Members of the FTAN delegation in the courtesy visit to the Tourism minister’s office included the executive committee officers, and some presidents of affiliate associations.Follow us on social media